Brian Williams spoke at Tim Russert's memorial service Wednesday afternoon at the Kennedy Center. Watch the speech below (transcript below):
Transcript of Brian Williams' speech:
BRIAN WILLIAMS, ANCHOR, "NBC NIGHTLY NEWS": I'm Brian Williams, and
until today, I thought his full name was Washington bureau chief,
moderator, "Meet the Press," Tim Russert.
WILLIAMS: Let's be honest. How many of us hoped this would be the
other way around, that someday, somehow, Tim could eulogize us? I,
too, am going to quote Daniel Patrick Moynihan, the fourth mention on
this stage today, probably all the proof we need that Timmy's former
boss was the last true public intellectual in American public life.
This quote came from November 24, 1963. Of the young president we had
just lost, Mr. Moynihan, then a young assistant secretary of labor,
famously said, I don't think there's any point in being Irish if you
don't know that the world is going to break your heart eventually. I
guess we thought we had a little more time.
For those of you not married to a dark, brooding Irishman, let me
assure you, we are a blast to live with.
WILLIAMS: I should quickly add, Tim didn't inherit that dark corner
of the Irish tradition, the Irish condition. As Maria correctly
pointed out, he was a jolly Irish Catholic kid. He had the original
sunny disposition. He was an optimist, always choosing to dwell on
I can also officially report here today for the first time Tim's last
words. His last words happened to be, What's happening? He was
greeting our Washington bureau editing supervisor, Candice Harrington
(ph). He had gone downstairs from his office to record his voice in a
sound-proof narration booth. He greeted Candice, having turned the
corner with his customary, What's happening? And he never made
another sound. Fitting probably because Tim was all about what's
happening, what's happening with everybody and everything, especially
along his power corridor, Buffalo to the Beltway.
Two nights ago, Larry King did an hour on Tim's heart, all kinds of
doctors and experts. They had graphics. They had plastic models. I
now know Tim's HDL and LDL better than my own. I have committed his
triglycerides to memory. Watching all the experts, I couldn't help
but think, Why didn't they just ask any one of us? We were all
experts, after all, on Tim's heart. We were all recipients of its
might, the generosity and compassion that flowed from it. I felt
qualified to conduct a guided tour of Tim's heart. All of us did.
But how is that it that that heart that sustained so many of us
through its good will stopped beating for the one man who depended on
it for life? As hearts go, when you think about it, it was more of a
shooting star, as it was a vessel for our friend Tim, brilliant,
shining brightly, passing before us for just a short time, too short a
time, and then gone.
Candidly, I'm not much for this talk, that Tim's death is the end of
what he stood for, his brand of objective journalism or all that he
built up. I don't think Tim, candidly, would believe that either.
Just as the spectacularly impressive Luke Russert has his father's DNA
in him and has displayed that so brilliantly over these past several
days, I'm telling our co-workers, so do we. We breathed in that air
that Tim breathed out among us. He touched all of us, if not with
that big "made in Buffalo" right paw of his that would come down on
your shoulder, through his friendship, through his friendship, through
his mentoring, he was our partner.
And one more Irish thing, a quote from Yates (ph) as paraphrased by
Senator Kennedy on that day, eulogizing his nephew John F. Kennedy,
Jr., and as paraphrased here in Tim's name. We dared to think he
would live to comb gray hair. He had every gift but length of years.
This brings us to a perfect note to end on, at least for me. Let's
talk about Tim's hair.
WILLIAMS: Tim spent a fortune on his hair.
WILLIAMS: Everyone up here who knows him knows the truth. He sent a
sizable amount of money on his hair. He went to a very fashionable
salon not far from here in Georgetown for years. Not his only nod to
vanity, but his only attempt at vanity.
WILLIAMS: And on the day when he got it done, he looked outstanding
for 60 to 90 minutes afterwards.
WILLIAMS: And then just gradually, after exiting that salon and going
about his day, in the course of the day, something happened. And the
truth is, he just went back to being Tim. It is perhaps best put this
way. Have you ever raked leaves on a sunny day in October, and you
get them into what you think is a perfect pile, and then a gust of
wind comes along? Well, that's nature taking the pile of leaves and
returning it to nature. Same thing happened with Tim's hair.
WILLIAMS: The metaphor, of course, is this. What's happened here is
our maker has taken our partner and brought him back home.