went to Hugh Sidey's funeral today. It was lovely. I grew up watching my mom take notes as Hugh talked on Agronsky and Company. One of my first real tasks in my short career as a television producer was putting together an interview my mom did with Hugh for a Time magazine promotional tape given to subscribers before the 1992 election.
People can ruin death. They could have done the Washington thing and talked about who Hugh knew and how important he was and what important people had said about him. There wasn't any of that.
President H.W. Bush gave one of the eulogies. He spoke as a pal. The two of them exchanged more than 400 letters (publisher calling?) since 1993. They talked about their families and politics. Some, said Bush quoting a Midland, TX friend were "vugular."
He cried so hard at the end he couldn't finish the eulogy. His daughter had to finish it for him. (He'd prepared us for this by explaining that it might happen. "I'm co-captain of the Bush family bawl team," he said. "That's b-a-w-l.")
Hugh's son Ted Sidey talked about how his dad just loved stories and thanked all of us for giving Hugh stories in our lives. It was a moving and funny tribute done with a light touch. Hugh would have loved it.
Hugh was always wonderful to me. He'd stop by my office or call just to learn what was up. When I interviewed the pilot Kelly Flynn after she'd been kicked out of the Air Force acadamy he called me up. He wanted to have lunch to talk about her. He spent the lunch asking questions: what motivated her, what was the military base like, was the Air Force covering up for treating her differently than they would a man. It was so different. He was retired then and he cared more about the story than a lot of the people at the magazine who had put together the cover story. He just liked a good story.
So after a life of wiritng about the powerful and taking heat from them when he was tough and from critics when he wasn't tough enough, it ended the way it should: so many people came together because he was a good guy.