Remembrances, Television
Jun 19, 2008

Mike Barnicle joins friends and colleagues of Tim Russert in remembering and celebrating his life and spirit.



Read the transcript of Mike Barnicle’s speech:

MIKE BARNACLE, JOURNALIST: I’m Mike Barnacle. I’m the head of Luke

Russert’s security detail. And I’m here today for Eaton, Tierney and

Quilty (ph). And to all the Episcopalians in the audience, Al, don’t

get worried. It’s not a heating and plumbing outfit.

They, Dennis Quilty, Bob and Doc Tierney, along with Judge Dick Eaton

and so many more are only a few of the many friends who knew and loved

Tim across all the years, apart from politics and outside the media.

Knew him through christenings and ballgames, weddings and wakes.

Laugh-out-loud funny e-mails, phone conversations, sometimes about

nothing. And they are here today, sitting silently like you, carrying

a cargo of grief.

We know Timmy at 12 and 13 from sister Lucille. The parochial school

lad with fine power method penmanship. And a mischief in his eye.

Laying out his clothes on Saturday night for children’s mass on Sunday

at 8 a.m.

We know him as the young man, shaped by the twin poets of Empire state

politics, Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Governor Mario Cuomo. And we

know him as someone who can give ill advice to Al Hunt saying, “Dress

well,” as well.

Taking that-taking that advice from Tim.

I mean, I’m not one to speak but-from Betsy we know him in his glory

at NBC and “MEET THE PRESS.” With the MRI machine that is television

today, provided millions of Americans with a soul-deep scan of a man

they grew to love and admire for his authenticity and credibility.

And we know him now and always as the friend, the husband, the father,

the son, the brother. The mentor to so many. A guy who was uniquely

without envy. Tim enjoyed your success, took pride in your

accomplishments. But we know that, don’t we?

So let me tell you about Tim in the summers of his life. His favorite

season, I think, even more perhaps than the political parade of fall.

When I shut my eyes, I see him at dusk on the grand porch of the

Otesaga Hotel in Cooperstown, home of the Baseball Hall of Fame. He

has a Rolling Rock in one hand and a newspaper in the other, and Luke

has at least $1,000 worth of hats, representing every major and minor

league team in existence.

I see him and Maureen taking Luke to summer hockey camp in Boston.

Maureen, baffled at the idea of ice skating in August. Tim, a Rolling

Rock in one hand and a newspaper in the other, looking at Luke and

seeing Wayne Gretzky.

I see him on a fishing boat in Nantucket, the great fly caster from

Holy Family Parish, Tom, in South Buffalo. A man who would need hand

grenades to get fish out of the ocean.

I see him in Connecticut with Maureen, the love of his life, running

Luke’s third birthday party the way he ran the Washington bureau.

Efficiently, kindly, generously, listening to everyone, with a Rolling

Rock in one hand and helium balloons in the other.

I see him at baseball all-star games in Denver and Philadelphia and

Boston with his boy and my boys, and I see him wearing his constant

summer uniform: the T-shirt or double X golf shirt. The ones with the

ketchup and mustard stains all over them. The pants, drooping from

the BlackBerry and the cell phone coupled to his belt, a Diet Coke in

one hand. He was doing “MEET THE PRESS” by now. And a couple of

hotdogs in the other.

And always wearing the huge smile that invited complete strangers to

approach him, as if they all grew up together in the same parish. And

in a very real sense, they did. Tim and his nation of admirers who

recognize authenticity and found him contagious and without guile.

I see him crying after helping Luke move into a freshman dorm at

Boston College.

I see him grabbing my son Timmy on a memorable night-I’m sorry,

governor-in October, 2004 when the Red Sox came all the way back to

beat the Yankees in their own house, Yankee Stadium, winning the

American League pennant. Big Tim and little Tim, both excited beyond

belief. Big Tim and little Tim, both acting their age: 12.

I see him in the summer of 1991 when the Barnacles and the Russerts

decided to visit the Brokaws in Montana. Tim is from a cement

sidewalk, as am I. Two guys who never mowed a lawn, never rode a

horse, and rarely saw a river without a paper mill or a steel plant

built at its edge.

In Montana, Lewis and Clark had an easier time navigating than we did.

Two families, two cars. Chevy Chase and John Candy on vacation.

Tim had a great idea. Get the kids walky-talkies so they can

communicate car to car. Luke was 6. He rode with Tim and Maureen.

Our two boys, 6 and 7, drove with us.

Tim’s other big idea occurred about five mile outside Jackson Hole,

Wyoming, on the way to Livingston. We would race to see who could be

first to get to the Brokaws.

Well, we sped along this flat ribbon of road for miles. Neither of us

had ever seen anything like it. Just flat as a ribbon. No traffic,

none at all. Cloudless blue sky. And we must have gone for 15, 20

miles, at about 80 or 90 miles per hour, until we noticed the blue

light in the rearview mirror.

We pulled over. Montana state trooper gets out, comes up to the cars,

takes our licenses and registrations. By now, the kids had retrieved

the walky-talkies from us, because Tim and I were using them more than

they were, and they were talking real loud and real fast, and it was

very quiet by the side of the road. And the quiet, the peace of the

Montana landscape, was pierced by this shriek of one of the

walky-talkies: “Dad’s getting busted.”

The trooper went to his car to get his ticket book, and he came back

with a puzzled look on his face. He told us he had a problem. We

were both speeding, but he only had one ticket left in his book. It’s

a true story. It’s Montana. One ticket.

Tim looked at him, he looked at me. He looked at the rental cars.

He looked back at the trooper. And said, only as Tim could say,

“Well, I was following him. Is that helpful, sir?”

So I see our friend in summer. I see his face. I hear his laugh, I

feel his joy, his absolute delight in the life God gave him. Timothy

J. Russert, noble, honorable, intensely loyal. He loved and was loved by

his wife, his son, his family, his friends, and a huge slice of this

great country of ours.

He was a boy of summer. He met his wife on a summer day. His son was

born in summer. And so it is that we blow him a kiss goodbye on a

soft summer evening, this sweetheart of a man who always, always left

us smiling.