Several hundred people jammed the National Press Club on Saturday morning, October 5th, to pay tribute to the groundbreaking journalist Helen Thomas. She was born on the 4th of August, l920 and died on July the 20th. Many of the friends and relatives in attendance agreed, this was one of the most moving events ever held in the long history of the National Press Club.
The Tribute was professionally produced by Suzanne Geha and others among Helen's many relatives. Humorous and poignant stories were told by several prominent friends. They included Sam Donaldson, Judy Woodruff, Susan Page, actress Diane Ladd, and the present" Dear Abby," Jeanne Phillips.
The Memorial contained its share of Helen -- style scoops. She said she once had a date with John F. Kennedy. Her assessment -- "he was fresh!" But he remained her first and favorite President. (I had the pleasure to begin White House coverage with her second President -Lyndon Johnson). Judy Woodruff said one reaction when Helen died was "Poor St. Peter." Diane Ladd said she would soon make a movie about Helen's stories concerning Martha Mitchell and the Watergate abuses.
Speakers acknowledged she was opinionated, but said those strong, and sometimes hurtful opinions "should not obscure the many important breakthroughs in her life." They said she "loved peace, was passionate, compassionate, and a loyal friend.
The Memorial Tribute ended with members of The Gridiron Club and the Press Club audience linking arms and singing "Auld Lang Syn."
Rest in peace Helen, and try not to ask too many questions!