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Virtual Oasis — Remembering Tim Russert

News of Tim Russert’s sudden passing sent shock-waves through my little household. In our interfaith marriage, I attend church on Sunday morning and my husband attends Meet the Press. And then we often watch the replay together on Sunday evening. I suppose he’s been a part of our marriage, and over the years, my regard for the man has moved from respect to true affection — especially as he opened up about his family relationships and faith in his books.

In the last 24 hours both my husband and I have broken down in tears more than once as we’ve watched the tributes, the memories, and the tears of his colleagues and friends. More than anything else, they speak of his love for his father, his love for his wife, his love for his son, his love for his church, and his love for his job. Watching him — in the moment and now, sadly, in retrospect — you knew you were watching a Life Well Lived. It’s wonderful to witness such people — it’s life-affirming.

Tonight, MSNBC replayed the father’s day special he tapped a couple of years ago, where he recounted my favorite anecdote:

RUSSERT: When I wrote “Big Russ” in May of 2004, at Thanksgiving, my dad hugged me and told me he loved me for the first time. He felt his life had been affirmed. He felt he was now able to communicate, in a word, because I had said in my book, “I wish to hell he’d tell me sometimes what I knew he felt.”

Christmas Eve, 2004, we went to midnight mass, came home and Luke was getting ready for bed. And my wife, Maureen, came running in and said, “You won’t believe it. He’s got a tattoo.” I said, “A tattoo? I talked to him about that, about the physical consequences. He promised he — Luke, get in here.” “No.” “What do you mean, no? Get in here. No, what — lift up your arm.”

Arms locked. “No.” I said, “Lift up your arm.” He lifts up his arm, and there in a little purple stencil print, TJR. My dad’s name is Timothy Joseph Russert. My name is Timothy John Russert. And he said, after I read your book, I always wanted you and grandpa on my side.

And, man, I fell in the chair, sobbed uncontrollably. My wife’s crying. Luke’s crying. I said, “You know, this is the nicest tattoo I’ve ever seen, but don’t get another one, you little rascal.”

Here are collection of tributes, articles, and anecdotes that would be worth reading on this Father’s Day weekend. May God bless his family this weekend.


Deborah is K-12 educator who nurtures a healthy interest in reading, writing, running, ethics, mystics, and interfaith dialogue.

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  1. tracy m says:

    Thanks for this, Deborah.

  2. I was embarrassed to think I had had virtually the same reaction to the news, when of course I didn’t have any personal connection to him. I *did* have your raction, for many of the same reasons. What a loss to us — and what an experience a man with his faith must be having now.

  3. Thank you very much for this tribute. My husband and I have been married for a little over a year and we spend every Sunday watching Meet the Press. We were both shocked and deeply saddened when we heard of Tim Russert’s death. Our Sunday mornings just won’t be the same now…

  4. Stephanie says:

    As we watched the tributes this weekend, my husband and I kept saying that it was the fact that people loved him so much that was the best part of his life. Although we can’t imagine the rest of the election season without him. We’ll miss our Sunday morning friend, that’s what he felt like as he’d discuss the political situation with glee.

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