Daniel Schorr died yesterday at age 93. In addition to being an amazing newsperson for more than 65 years, he also set an example for all of us — aging parents and adult children — who want to stay engaged and keep working long past traditional retirement age. Schorr experienced occasional health issues, and Scott Simon mentioned this morning on Weekend Edition Saturday that he recently started using a walker when he came to National Public Radio. Yet he worked, wrote, broadcast, and gave history lessons — a lot of history lessons — right up to a few days before he died. Boy, did he love his work.
For as long as I can remember my family has always been an informal Daniel Schorr fan club. Just after Watergate, he made a speech in central Illinois, I think at my college, but I am not sure of that. In any event, when my father and mother heard he was coming, they set aside the time for the whole family to join me to hear Schorr’s lecture. When he stood up for principle, we cheered, and of course we really cheered when he found himself on the enemies list and for the rest of his life considered the designation a badge of honor. Once we heard him say, on NPR of course, that the enemies list was almost a greater honor than his Emmy Awards.
Over the last 25 years on more than one occasion, family members living in different locations have listened to Daniel Schorr on Weekend Edition Saturday or All Things Considered and picked up the phone to ask if others had heard it too. And when his book, Staying Tuned: A Life in Journalism, was published, my dad received it as a Christmas present, but it was passed around to everyone, becoming one of the most dog-eared books in the library.
On Saturday mornings over the years, when we found ourselves together, we would plan the early part of the day around his comments on Scott Simon’s program. Sometimes we’d forget about the radio, but inevitably one of us would remember and rush to turn it on. More often than not, after Schorr finished his analysis, or comment, or history lesson, one person in the room would look at the others and say, “Well, now I know how to think about that.”
Let’s hope that those of us who age with basic health on our side, can also have at least some of Daniel Shorr’s vitality.
Some Daniel Shore Memorial Links