Years ago, I worked at NBC News in Washington, D.C.. My boss was Tim Russert. I was a peon at the time, and Tim was the head of the entire bureau as well as the moderator of "Meet the Press," the longest-running television show in worldwide broadcasting history. Tim didn't even have to acknowledge my existence. But he did. And he became my friend and mentor.
Tim passed away suddenly yesterday, after collapsing at NBC Studios while taping voiceovers for this weekend's edition of "Meet the Press." Tim left behind a wife, noted journalist Maureen Orth, and a son, Luke. Luke just graduated from college.
I remember Luke as an adorably precocious six-year-old. I first met Luke early one Sunday morning, when his dad brought him to the studio for the weekly taping of "Meet the Press." I sat next to Luke that morning and we entertained each other, giggling at the "very important" guests and playing tic-tac-toe on the back of some script copy.
Tim came up to me after the show that day and said, "I see you met my son Luke." Tim adored Luke, and he beamed every time he talked about him. "I think he might have a little crush," he added.
"He's a great kid," I replied. Then Tim asked, "So if Luke wanted to come to the studio again next week, you think you may want to hang out with him?" Yes. Yes, I did.
And that's how Luke and I became buddies. And Tim became my buddy too. He would call me into his office to show me the latest pictures of his family: his beloved dad Russ, his sisters, his gorgeous wife, and Luke. Luke in his baseball uniform. Luke at a baseball game. Always something about baseball. The man loved sports.
And even though I was just a girl, in my early twenties with very limited real-world experience, Tim cared about my opinion. He asked what I thought about important political matters, and he introduced me to senators, national correspondents, anchors, and presidential candidates. (I must admit to having a small - OK, huge - crush on NBC's White House Correspondent at the time, Brian Williams.)