Vox Populi: The O'Shaughnessy Files

By William O’Shaughnessy | Go to book overview

“A DEATH IN THE FAMILY”:
TIM RUSSERT

This piece drew reaction from all over the country and
from many in our profession … and a lovely note from
Tim’s widow—the writer Maureen Orth—and his son, Luke
Russert.

His father, immortalized in an endearing and bestselling book, collected garbage and trash from the hard, bleak streets of south Buffalo. And if you came out of that dwindling city in western New York, as I did, you will recognize Tim Russert as a child of the neighborhood.

If you’re listening to this in Yonkers (where true love conquers), the Bronx, or even Peekskill or Mamaroneck, you will also feel a kinship with the television journalist who collapsed and died in a studio in Washington Friday afternoon. Timothy John Russert Jr. was the best of what we are as broadcasters. But he did not resemble anyone who ever lived in Scarsdale, Bronxville, Rye, Bedford, or Litchfield.

He was a reassuring, comforting presence you thought would always be there in our lives. And my own tribe, our entire profession, took this hard. Anyone who ever sat in front of a microphone or peered into a television camera feels an awful sadness that is deep and personal. Russert’s passing, so unexpected and so sudden, was like a death in the family.

I knew him when he worked for Mario Cuomo. But I am entitled, if not entirely qualified, to get on the radio to tell you about Tim Russert because we also went to the same Canisius High School on Delaware Avenue, the big, broad boulevard that runs through one of the remaining nice sections of Buffalo even to this day.

And although we were in the care and keeping of the German Jesuits some ten years apart, Russert and I both got whacked upside the head by the same worn old leather prayer book belonging to the Reverend John Sturm, S.J., who took most seriously his title and high estate: Prefect of Discipline.

-539-

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