I never met Tim Russert. Never e-mailed him and never called him. Never saw him speak in public, never ran into him at a convention. Yet Tim Russert gave me a very personal gift.
I watched Tim Russert as you did... as a viewer. But as a young television news producer, I also watched him to learn. How do I explain a complicated, often partisan, political issue accurately and without spin? I got an education watching Tim Russert.
A lot of that learning came after hours. When election days turned into long nights, and sometimes into dawn, I was often alone in the newsroom preparing for the next round of results or next newscast. At my side? Tim Russert.
He didn't just talk politics. He made you understand it. Tom Brokaw called Russert one of the "premiere journalists" of our time. Russert is remembered as a masterful interviewer. A man who loved his family, his faith, politics and sports. He is remembered as a teacher, a leader and a mentor.
A mentor to people he never even met. And a journalist whose shining, clear voice is his legacy.