JULY 10, 1920-JUNE 11, 2003

By Tom Brokaw
Updated December 26, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

Farewell: Tom Brokaw pays tribute to David Brinkley

David was a seminal figure in my life. I didn’t even see television until 1955, and he came on the next year with Chet Huntley. How astonishing it was to see a newscast anchored by these two people who spoke plain language, without the theatrics of John Cameron Swayze. Even though he had this great reserve about him, people in the newsroom loved him because they could kid with him easily. He also had a real impish quality that you only saw a little bit on the air.

David had this uncanny ability to succinctly summarize what you were seeing on the screen. He was in Los Angeles when Bobby Kennedy was killed. The next day on television, David talked about Bobby’s wife traveling east for the funeral, along with Jackie Kennedy and Coretta Scott King: ”So in one airplane, three widows of three American public figures murdered by assassins.” And then he stopped talking. And I thought, That’s the essence of how we should be conducting ourselves. (Brinkley died of complications from a fall in Houston.)