Saturday, June 14, 2008

Tim Russert, May 7, 1950 – June 13, 2008

I read Tim Russert’s book, Big Russ and Me, in the summer of 2004. His book touched me as I recalled many memories of my own father including his sacrifices, his courage, his accountability and his enduring love for his wife, children, family and friends. I wrote a book summary reflecting on similarities and differences between Big Russ and my father. I emailed the summary to Russert expecting nothing and received more than I could ever imagine including a personal thank you!

I got an email from Bill Novak, Russert’s associate, explaining how many others were moved by Russert's writing and how many had shared stories of their own father’s. Novak invited me to be a part of Russert’s new book, Wisdom of Our Fathers: Lessons and Letters from Daughters and Sons.

Apparently, what caught the attention of Russert and Novak in my summary of Big Russ and Me were my father’s inspirational quotes. Novak asked if I could find a picture of my father and me when I was young and send it to them. They wanted to use the picture and one of my father’s favorite quotes in the new book under the chapter, Honor.

With the help of my mother, I sent an old black and white photo taken back in the mid fifties of my father and me. That photo is on page 35 of Wisdom of our Fathers along with my one my father’s favorite quotes, 'He who stands for nothing will fall for anything.'

In return for sharing this photo and quote, Russert sent me a personal note and autographed copy of the book. I consider the book an “artifact” and I use it with groups when I facilitate the initiative, Meet My Artifact. In fact, I had just shared it with a group I was facilitating this past Thursday evening, June 12.

Tim Russert was one of the few news people I trusted. Spin was not part of his questioning or delivery. He treated interviewees with dignity and respect, a reflection of his humility exemplified by upbringing. For me, Tim Russert made sense and connected-the-dots of the news and news-makers.

In Big Russ and Me, he wrote about visiting Pope John Paul II. Outside the Pope’s apartment was a plaque with the Pope’s motto, a Latin phrase, Totus Tuus – translated “totally yours.” I believe this motto also fits Tim Russert.

Tim Russert’s wife, Maureen Orth, has lost a wonderful partner. Tim Russert’s son, Luke, has lost his father. Big Russ has lost his son. NBC lost a wonderful anchor and staff member. The nation has lost a trusted patriot. I have lost a friend who made a difference in my life.

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