The Schieffer boys, Bob and Tom, both wrote their names in the Fort Worth Exchange Club’s Book of Golden Deeds when the club honored them May 15. The recognition is among the most prestigious in our city and they added their names to a long list of our best citizens who have excelled in Fort Worth’s business and civic life.
Turns out, though, the brother-honorees aren’t that bright. Both men were honored for their achievements, which have been many, but all they wanted to do was talk about other people – folks who’ve done great things and helped them along the way.
Hey, Schieffers – we were there to hear about you!
OK, that’s my shot at ironic wit. From here on, I’ll leave the sardonic humor with a twist to the professionals.
The Schieffers are bright, of course. Bright as in smart and perceptive. Bright as in bright, shining stars of Fort Worth and the world beyond. Better yet, they are thoughtful, gracious, grateful and unpretentious – genetically incapable of basking in the limelight and relentlessly insistent on praising and thanking the mentors, friends and family who have helped them accomplish so much.
Bob, the older of the two, is of course a familiar face and voice. He made his mark at the Star-Telegram, first by driving Lee Harvey Oswald’s mother to Dallas when she called the newspaper looking for a ride after her son was arrested following the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, and later by covering the Vietnam War. He broke into television at Fort Worth’s Channel 5, which was then WBAP-TV and later began a long, illustrious career at CBS as a reporter, anchor and host of Face the Nation.
It would be easy to know about Bob and not Tom, who is 10 years younger. Former U.S. Rep. Pete Geren, who served as Secretary of the Army after leaving Congress and now is president and CEO of the Sid Richardson Foundation, delivered a sterling, detailed introduction of his longtime friend Tom, making it clear that if you are not familiar with the younger Schieffer’s incredible career you should be.
You can read Geren’s speech on Page 6 of the May 20-26 issue of the Business Press or online at fortworthbusiness.com
Tom was a political wunderkind beginning at Arlington Heights High School, where he served as student body president when he was 17. He went on to become a state legislator at 24 and later became a partner in the Texas Rangers baseball team, overseeing construction of the stadium originally dubbed The Ballpark in Arlington and now known as Globe Life Park. He later served in top U.S. diplomatic posts as ambassador to Australia and Japan.
Both he and Bob devoted key portions of their remarks to family, praising their parents and, especially, their sister Sharon, who was a local high school educator and a trailblazer for women in education.
Sharon and her career were highlighted several years ago when she was honored by the Business Press as a “Great Woman of Texas.”
Bob mentioned those who guided his print and broadcast careers and also those he helped in the profession who have gone on to their own fame.
Tom used much of his speech to educate the crowd about the late Garrett Morris, a Fort Worth attorney and political leader. Specifically, Schieffer told the story of Morris’ efforts to help create Tarrant County College. Tom, a high school student at the time, worked on that campaign and later practiced law with Morris.
Creating and getting voter approval for a junior college in Fort Worth was an uphill battle and many believed the project was doomed. But the voters approved it and the college, expected to open with 1,400 students, boasted an opening-day enrollment of 4,000. More than 100,000 now attend TCC.
Many of those on hand to honor the Schieffers had never heard of Morris – or if they knew his name were not aware of his visionary leadership.
Tom mentioned others, too, but it was his story about Garrett Morris and other leaders who helped create TCC that captivated the crowd.
“These were people who saw a public need before the public saw it,” Schieffer said. “They stepped forward to do something about it because they thought it was their duty as good citizens.”
Tom and Bob both spoke about the importance of mentors in all of our lives and they paid homage to them. You do not achieve success without role models and without help.
Sure enough, those Schieffer boys are bright – bright enough, and humble enough, to know that while the night was dedicated to them it was a perfect opportunity for them to articulate their appreciation and affection for others. Their speeches were golden deeds in their own right.
Tom ended with some sage observations about the challenging times we live in, reminding us that “some things never change even in an ever-changing society.”
“Telling the truth fosters trust,” he said. “Telling lies destroys faith. Wisdom is acquired from both failure and success. Ignorance never benefited anyone. When the public discourse becomes more profane than profound nothing will be accomplished. Tolerance is strength not weakness. Understanding promotes peace not discord. Denigrating one another drives us further apart not closer together. The commandment was not to hate one another, it was to love one another.”
There was a time in the golden age of television when the NBC network news was co-anchored by a famous duo, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. The Huntley-Brinkley Report.
The only thing CBS could have done that might have been smarter than hiring Bob Schieffer would have been to hire both Schieffers to create its own legendary newscast: The Schieffer-Schieffer Report.
Richard Connor is president and publisher of the Fort Worth Business Press. Contact him at email@example.com