Louis Rukeyser, My Mentor, My Memory ©

CNBC Photograph, Washington Post
Tonight Louis Rukeyser, a bestselling author, columnist, lecturer, and television host of Wall Street Weekpassed. I heard the news of his demise on The News Hour, a Public Broadcasting program, as was Rukeyser's long-running show.  I came in late in the program and knew nothing of the upcoming report.  I wondered why Jim Lehrer was introducing film clips of Wall Street Week with Mr. Rukeyser.  I feared the worst and hoped for much better.

After the snippets were shown, Mr. Lehrer announce the beloved man had passed at the age of seventy-three. My first thought was "No." My second was, "How young he was!" Then I wondered "Why?" I recalled when his father met his maker and reflected on how close the two were.  I knew this because I began watching Wall Street Week in 1970, the year it first aired.  I continued to view this program until it ended in 2002.  

I watched when I had no money to speak of or invest, and no connection to the study of economics.  I was a regular viewer even though, for years, the idea of understanding finances literally brought me to tears.  Nevertheless, I loved this show.  I rarely, if ever missed it.

Earlier this week John Kenneth Galbraith passed and I thought to write of his influence on my life; however, I did not.  It was odd for me to let that moment go by without offering a serious reflection.  My Mom was more than an admirer of this great economist.  Nevertheless, life took precedence, and I concluded others might honor the loss better than I.  I decided there are economic experts that would pay homage to this mentor.  Their praise might be more substantial than my own.  [Tributes and eulogies offered below.]  I have since regretted that decision repeatedly, for I know that at times sentimentality is apt.

Thus, I write.  For decades, people were willing to purchase cable television and I was not.  I relied on PBS.  My relationship is longstanding.  It began in childhood and continues.  Allow me to interject, I was never a Sesame Street aficionado; I struggle to relate to that type of programming and did even as a child.  Considering I read my first fairy tale at the age of twenty-one, this may make sense to you, dear reader.  No,  my parents did not bring the "unreal" into my life.  [The term in quotes is the one my Mom used for such stories.]

However, not in the style of today's reality programming; instead in the form of news, I was hooked on information.  I still am.  As a child, adolescent, and adult, there was never enough.  I was and am frustrated by my own inability to recall it all exactly.  Nevertheless, I am able to remember events, experiences, and conversations in great detail.

I remember where I was the first time I saw Wall Street Week [and Washington Week in Review.]  I delighted in the camaraderie. I noticed the connections between political news and finances.  [I became a political junkie at the age of five when my natural father, a Republican Right-winged reactionary, and my Mom, a strong Democratic Socialist, engaged in an animated political discussion in front of me.]  I appreciated the ease and flow of conversations between host Louis Rukeyser and his guests.

As Money magazine stated of Mr. Rukeyser, "He brings to the tube a blend of warmth, wit, irreverence, thrusting intellect and large doses of charm, plus the credibility of a Walter Cronkite."

To some observers Louis Rukeyser was a sex symbol.  "People magazine termed him "the dismal science [of economics] only sex symbol." Modern Maturity magazine honored this host with the title one of the world's "50 Sexiest People Over 50."

As an author, Rukeyser was prolific.  He wrote, "What's Ahead for the Economy: The Challenge and the Chance." This book became a best seller and was revised and updated; it was released in paperback.  The book became a bestseller nationally and was ultimately a selection of the Literary Guild.

It has been acclaimed as "the best book on economics"; Nobel laureate Milton Friedman hailed it as "exciting and important"; and former Treasury Secretary William E. Simon said it "tells where the economy is really going, and what you can do about it."

His Doubleday book, "How to Make Money in Wall Street," has long been a classic in the field--twice a selection of the Literary Guild and a best-seller in both hardback and paperback."

Mr. Rukeyser has received numerous awards and acknowledgements.  This amazing man was a distinguished political and foreign correspondent for the Baltimore Sun periodical for eleven years.  He was Chief Political Correspondent for the Evening Sun, Chief of the Sun's London Bureau and Chief Asian Correspondent for the Sun.  His career is noteworthy.

Yet, for me, he was more than an image on the television, a name on a page, a celebrity, or esteemed for his economic finesse.  He was real and I felt, even with all my fears of finances, I could relate to him.  He was a family man.  The warmth that he emitted felt genuine.  If some thought him sexy, I suspect it was because there is nothing as precious as unadulterated personality.

Dear Louis Rukeyser, I missed you when you were here, when your program left the airwaves; I now grieve with your friends and family.  I am certain you are not gone in the hearts and minds of many.

[Multiple Myeloma was the cause of this sad departure.  Mr. Rukeyser may you realize the best in whatever may follow.]

Discussion . . . While I doubt Rukeyser's politics were as mine; nor do I believe he and I were aligned philosophically as I was with Galbraith, I believe I/we can admire a man, as a person, even if we differ.

Please review references . . .

Betsy L. Angert Be-Think

Tags: Business, economics, John Kenneth Galbraith, Louis Rukeyser, Tributes, Wall Street Week (all tags)

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