Memorial services for Tim Russert

June 18, 2008 9:46:16 AM PDT
The two men vying to become president, Sens. Barack Obama and John McCain, and congressional leaders, journalists and other Washington elite paid tribute to television journalist Tim Russert on Wednesday at a private funeral mass.

"It is not easy to preach a homily for Tim and to communicate the feelings we all share concerning this remarkable man, for he was truly one of the great communicators in American society," Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the archbishop emeritus of Washington, D.C., said in his homily.

Russert, the host of the Sunday-morning talk show "Meet the Press," died Friday of a heart attack at the age of 58. He also served as the Washington bureau chief for NBC News. A political insider, Russert was known for conducting tough interviews of Washington's most powerful politicians, yet he evoked an everyman quality that showed his blue-collar roots.

Among the dignitaries were New York Gov. David Paterson, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif.

There were also enough TV journalists to fill several political roundtables. Among the honorary pallbearers were NBC News anchor Brian Williams, "Today" show host Matt Lauer and Bryant Gumbel. Retired anchor Tom Brokaw greeted the guests, saying no house meant more to Russert than "the house of the Lord."

"It has all been said so eloquently in the tributes that have come from some of the highest authorities in our nation and even around the world. ... All that remains is to say thank you to the good and gracious God who gave us Tim Russert for 58 years and to pray that the beloved anchor of Meet the Press is now sitting at the large table of the Lord to begin a conversation which will last forever," said McCarrick, who presided over the Catholic service.

Russert's son Luke was also scheduled to speak.

The funeral service at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in the Georgetown was private, but a loud speaker broadcast the service to about 100 onlookers standing along the tree-lined streets. A man wearing a kilt played the bagpipes as the crowd arrived.

An invitation-only memorial service was scheduled to be held at the Kennedy Center later on Wednesday.