You could say it’s not surprising that Luke Russert became involved in the new release of his dad’s book, “Big Russ and Me.”
After all, the younger Russert found some solace following the loss of his father six years ago in turning to work.
“My mother and I, since my father passed, have made a conscious decision to work hard,” said Russert, 28, in a phone interview with The Buffalo News.
“You can sit around and mourn,” Russert said. “People will offer you excuses for a very long time.”
“But there comes a time when you yourself need to move forward.”
Russert, who works in Washington, D.C., as a correspondent for NBC News, wrote a new preface to his late father’s best-selling book – which told the story of Tim Russert’s childhood in South Buffalo, his education and his strong relationship with “Big Russ,” his father. The book, subtitled “Father and Son: Lessons of Life,” has just been released by Weinstein Books in a 10th anniversary paperback edition.
Tim Russert died in 2008, and his dad – also Tim Russert, or “Big Russ” – the next year. Now, Luke Russert said that the time was right for him to step into the writing project that was “Big Russ and Me.”
“These days, people remember my father for being a legendary journalist,” said Russert.
But, he said, the most important thing to Tim Russert was “being a father.”
“I thought it was the right time for it to be rereleased,” Russert said, of his father’s book.
Russert – who, as his father wrote in “Big Russ and Me,” was named at least partly for Buffalo Bisons ballplayer Luke Easter – said that he wrote his 11-page preface to the new edition of the book in one sustained bout of writing.
“I like to write in one sitting,” said Russert.
“I sat down at my kitchen table, and sat there for about seven hours,” he said, “and just cranked things out.”
Luke’s preface carries the byline Luke Orth Russert, his middle name a nod to his mother, writer Maureen Orth, whose work appears in Vanity Fair, among other publications. In an interview, the younger Russert called his mother, a Catholic, a “woman of deep faith.”
He also said that he and Orth have made a strong effort to “move our lives forward” in the wake of Tim Russert’s death at 58. But, he said, certain times of the year are hard – and Father’s Day is high on the list, since Tim Russert died on June 13, 2008, right around that day.
“That is an emotional time of year for me,” said Russert, who lives in Washington.
Russert said the writing experience was rewarding for him, because it required him to delve into memories of his dad – and, also, to reflect on what made Tim Russert so popular.
“The writing experience was very cathartic for me,” he said.
Russert, a Boston College graduate, said he thinks the journalistic and political worlds his dad inhabited – the Capitol Hill circles in Washington, D.C. – have changed a lot, even in the six years since his father died.
“I often wonder how he would have dealt with that,” said Russert. “I can imagine him saying, ‘That really came out in a tweet?’ ”
Russert said that, in a way, his father defined his moment in journalism.
“I would say he was in a certain era – a news era,” he said.
Russert said that one source of support, and professional mentoring, for him since his father’s death has been Tom Brokaw.
“He and my dad were such good friends,” said Russert. “They were professional brothers. They had a wonderful rapport.”
Russert – who still has relatives living in Western New York – said that he gets back to Buffalo every now and then. Usually, he said, his trips have something to do with sports.
“I try to get back for a Bills game a year,” Russert said.
And the Sabres?
“Not recently,” Russert said. “Back in the day when we had Miller and Briere, I tried to get back ... but we’re headed in the right direction.”
Luke Russert will be in town later this month for a book signing tied to the new edition of “Big Russ and Me.” He will sign books from 1 to 2:30 p.m. June 29 in Talking Leaves bookstore on Elmwood Avenue.