Requiescat in Pace, Tim Russert, CHS ’68
Very sad news has just reached my ears upon returning home from work. Emmy-winning journalist and author Tim Russert, who was a fellow Canisius High School alumnus and rabid Buffalo Bills fan, died suddenly this afternoon while he was on the job.
I never knew Tim personally, but he was one of the most vocal and open of Buffalo‘s native sons, a city that, despite a metro area of a little over a million people, is one of those places where everyone knows everyone else, so losing Russert is a bit like losing a family member.
Whether you liked him as a journalist or not, he was the type of guy who wore his heart on his sleeve, always talking up his beloved Buffalo Bills (his death has even warranted getting posted to Two Bills Drive and the Bills own website which has also put up a video clip that I can’t seem to link to) and Buffalo itself any chance he got. I read his 2004 book Big Russ and Me, which was a great and often hilarious account of his relationship with his dad and his days growing up in Buffalo. In fact, that book is the source of one of my favorite quotes (that requires a bit of explanation).
When Tim attended CHS, what is now called the Dean of Students was called the Prefect of Discipline and at that time it was John G. Sturm, S.J. (awesome name for the position – and thanks to John C. Haumesser, MD, CHS ’65 for making sure I wrote it the correct way!). Father Sturm was one of those guys who you could have seen playing pro football. In any case, he caught Tim eating between periods in the hall once because Tim had a ravenous appetite. When Sturm caught him, Tim pleaded for mercy due to the fact that he was a freshman and didn’t know any better. Fr. Sturm replied, “Russert, mercy is for God. I deliver justice.”
I suppose I should add I borrowed this post title from the CHS website, but it seemed appropriate.
Update II: Here’s something scary. Tim was apparently doing everything right in terms of his health, according to his doctor, though he knew had the usual cholesterol/heart problems (I say usual because so many of us have these problems, especially those of us from Buffalo, one of the great “eating” cities in America). Nonetheless, these things can be hard to predict and it just goes to show you how much you have to be careful. The doctor said Tim probably could have taken a stress test today and passed. On the other hand, he also added a defibrillator might – and I stress might – have saved him. There’s a reason a lot of places are choosing to keep them around (I believe all the buildings where I work have them).
Update III: More great links and galleries from The Buffalo News.