Bob Schieffer is not a man who has left much unsaid.
How could he? Broadcast journalists don’t spend 46 years communicating in pauses.
This was a dangling conversation if ever I’ve heard one but it was about him not by him.
“I met Bob Schieffer today and he’s even better looking in person than on TV,” said the Fort Worth woman, a beauty in her own right.
I’d never thought of Schieffer as someone who owed his fame to matinee idol handsomeness but I guess there’s no underestimating the irresistible appeal of Texas charm and unwavering integrity
So, I am happy for him that he has aged well and can still leave a lovely woman breathless. But Bob Schieffer was clearly hired and became among the most respected and trusted newsmen ever not because of his chiseled jaw but because of his talent, his nose for news, his work ethic, his aforementioned integrity and his lifelong sense of personal and journalistic fairness.
He brought dignity to television journalism.
And so, after more than 50 years in the news business, most of it spent far from his hometown of Fort Worth and his alma mater, TCU, Schieffer decided to make some news in Cowtown with the April 18 announcement of a spectacular new TCU scholarship program sponsored by Bob and his wife Pat and named for Schieffer’s mother: The Gladys Payne Schieffer Scholarship.
The program will fund as many as four scholarships each year providing full tuition, room and board, books, fees and other educational expenses to students who lack the financial resources to attend TCU. Recipients also will receive “Discovery Funds” to help pay for study abroad, internships and undergraduate research.
TCU calls the new Schieffer program the university’s “most generous and academically prestigious scholarship.”
But as the former Face the Nation host put the Schieffer name on another TCU institution – joining the Bob Schieffer College of Communications – one of Fort Worth’s other legendary family names hovered in the background: Carter.
It was Amon Carter’s Star-Telegram that hired Schieffer as a young reporter and it was there that he talked the executives into sending him to Vietnam, where he was among the earliest wave of Texas and national journalists to report firsthand on the war and the soldiers who fought it.
But fame had first shone brightly on him on one of the darkest days in American and Texas history: Nov. 22, 1963, when President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas. Working in the Star-Telegram’s Fort Worth newsroom, Schieffer answered the phone only to be greeted by a woman asking for someone to drive her to Dallas.
The woman turned out to be Marguerite Oswald, mother of the accused assassin, Lee Harvey Oswald. Schieffer drove her to Dallas police headquarters.
Schieffer stayed on the scene, spending hours gathering information and phoning it back into the Star-Telegram city room. At one point, the story goes, the cops mistook him for a federal agent and very nearly allowed him to sit in on an interview with Oswald.
That story and the one about Schieffer getting a job interview with a CBS honcho who thought he was someone else and ended up hiring him make the 1959 TCU graduate seem lucky – which might lead you to believe it was luck that carried him to fame and fortune.
But Schieffer’s experience offers a lesson about achieving success, and here it is: To be successful in business and in life, you need to work harder than everyone else, be honest, and take advantage of every opportunity you find, lucky and otherwise.
Be the taxi driver to Dallas. Take the interview even if it appears to be in error. Stretch. Dream big. Take risks.
That’s how Bob Schieffer got “lucky” and it’s how he achieved and maintained his amazingly successful career. Luck through perseverance and hard work.
And when he made it into the big time, he kept his feet planted and his priorities in order, never overshadowing the stories, just digging them out and telling them.
Gladys Payne Schieffer undoubtedly helped him stay grounded and focused growing up. Pat Schieffer’s support and encouragement surely helped him find the balance between ambition and personal fulfillment.
Today’s Fort Worth is not what it once was. Philanthropy remains a key ingredient of Cowtown’s culture, but charitable organizations and other nonprofits will tell you that it’s much harder to raise money now than at some times in the past.
As a community, we can thank the Schieffers for their incredible gift to TCU and to the advancement of education – and for acting like “old” Fort Worth folk.
And while we’re at it, we should thank another Carter, George Ann Carter Bahan, who introduced the Schieffers. She brags that she has a near-perfect record when it comes to matchmaking. She hit the lottery with the Schieffers.
Richard Connor is chairman of the parent company of Fort Worth Business, DRC Media. Contact him at email@example.com.