To millions of political junkies such as me, Russert was as much a part of our Sunday schedule as a cup of coffee and his sudden and tragic death comes as a total shock. Apparently, he collapsed at work after suffering a heart attack.
To his family, friends and coworkers I send my own heartfelt prayers. Losing a loved one suddenly is hard enough, having it play out across the world cannot make it much better.
If there is a bright spot in this sad story it will certainly be the many, many stories to come about how Tim was respected and loved by almost anyone whose life he touched. I did not know him personally, but know enough people who did and I’ve never heard a bad word. I often saw Tim visiting the NBC offices in my building – located in the shadow of Capitol Hill – and there was always a smile on his face and aura of energy radiating from him.
Tim was one of Washington’s shining lights because he loved the game of politics and treated every one across the table with respect. He might back you into a corner with your own words, but he was never mean about it. It’s a rare gift to be both a total professional and good hearted person in this town but Russert accomplished both quite naturally. Curious about everything, his guests ranged from political players to religious leaders, athletes to actors.
This year, Time magazine named Tim one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Our world is now a little poorer for his passing. Tim Russert had the kind of personal style that was clear to see.
He was a lawyer turned politician turned journalist and he was probably one of the best I’ll ever see in this lifetime; a good guy who happened to live out much of his day on a global stage.
I don’t say this lightly, but if asked to name someone who has truly influenced how I see the world, it would be Tim Russert. He was always curious about life, an important trait instilled in me by my own father. Tim also sought out facts, not hype; never confusing bluster or sly parsing with truth. When he spoke, it was usually worth listening because he knew how to tell a story.
But more than all of that, Tim was a husband, a father and a son; three roles he clearly cherished more than any others. If that were the only legacy he left behind, it would have been more than enough.