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Remembrance: Jim Lehrer was a mentor until the end

Jim Lehrer died the way he lived: admirably. In his sleep, beside his love and with a smile on his face. Simple. Straightforward. Profound.

Millions looked to him to speak truth, and he delivered. Simple questions posed to the most powerful people were his trademark.

He wrote more than anyone I’ve known, yet honored brevity the way a Marine takes orders. His religion: humility. His principles: honest.

He let you know how he felt and had a knack for using profanity to punctuate his point. When the light in his eyes shined on you, there was no greater compliment. When you disappointed him, his scorn was fierce.

He cried at the phone book. He delivered devastating news with the calm of a loving father. He hid his humor behind the camera — a secret shared with those lucky enough to know him.

He loved buses because he loved family. And saw in them two central tenets to a good life: freedom and community.

Mike and Jim. Photo by Judy Woodruff

We often refer to the “NewsHour family.” And in Washington, Jim was our founding father. We were too small an operation to hire jerks. As a result, in sickness and health, he fostered in us a sense of care for one another that he exemplified in his love for Kate, his wife.

I find myself crying, but wondering why. Jim Lehrer lived a good life and died the way we all hope for ourselves. A mentor until the end.

Jim never sent us a Christmas card, but every spring, around the equinox, we’d get a postcard heralding the dawn of new life with his signature sign off: Onward!

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