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Remembering Russert

06/25/08 5:55PM By Deborah Doyle-Schechtman
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(HOST) Commentator Deborah Doyle-Schechtman has been thinking about TV journalist Tim Russert - his sudden death, a high school friendship and home town values.

(DOYLE-SCHECHTMAN) Although Tim Russert and I both grew up in Buffalo, New York, our paths didn't cross until we were in our teens. We hadn't spoken in years, but I'd kept track of him through his very public life. His recent, unexpected death brought back fond memories of the boy I had known.

Timmy, as we all used to call him, was at an all boys' high school run by the Jesuits in the mid-1960s; I was taught by the nuns at an all girls academy a few miles away. We often bumped into each other at parties and social events, basketball games and the like. He was a sports junkie, a team player, and one of our more responsible friends. Everyday after school he'd get on a bus and head to work at a church downtown. The commitment to his job outweighed whatever else might be in the offing. Well, most of the time anyway, and assuming of course he wasn't in JUG, a term the Canisius boys used for detention.

He was a magnanimous soul, with a great sense of humor and an inquiring mind. His passion for music and spirit of adventure took him to Woodstock. His interest in and respect for people from all walks of life made him as much at home with those of us who were becoming flower children as with his dad's buddies at the Legion hall.

And did I mention he was a sports nut? Timmy loved baseball, almost as much as he loved his family - and that was alot. He embraced the game with the same kind of fervor he did his Catholic faith.

His smile lit up a room, or a stadium for that matter, and the ever-present glint in his eye was a constant reminder of both his potential for mischief and his confirmed zest for life. Tim truly believed that with hard work and compassion amazing things could happen. And brother did they.

Whether he meant to be or not, Tim Russert was the poster child for the merits of instilling fundamental values in our youth, both at home, and through our educational system. He proved in the 58 years he was on this planet that one person can profoundly impact the world in which he or she lives, making it a better place for us all; that dedication and focus pay off; that success doesn't have to change you if you know who you are and where you're from. Tim certainly did.

Over the last several days I have watched the world praise him not only for what he did, but how he did it - with kindness, generosity, exuberance, humility and joy. As I watched Tim's colleagues, beltway insiders, and the American public pay their last respects to a guy whose name is on Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2008, what impressed me the most was the fact that, even after 40 years, I could still recognize the South Buffalo boy I had known.

It's often said that the child is the father of the man, and with Tim Russert at least, that appears to have been the case.

Way to go Timmy.
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