RIP Tim Russert

Veteran political newsman Tim Russert’s untimely death today of a heart attack at 58 comes exactly two months after he was feted as this year’s prestigious Damon Runyon recipient at an awards dinner and ceremony in Denver that drew 750.

On April 13, the moderator of NBC’s Meet the Press joined the ranks of past Damon Runyon Award recipients that include Jimmy Breslin, Mike Royko, Maureen Dowd and Molly Ivins in receiving the award. Sponsored by the Denver Press Club, the award is designed to honor a journalist who has made extraordinary contributions to the field in the spirit of Damon Runyon, the newspaperman and writer who was born in 1884, grew up in Pueblo, Colorado and went on to fame in New York., including writing the Broadway play Guys and Dolls.

According to the Denver Press Club, “the honorees are selected with a special eye towards those whose careers have embraced the highest journalistic standards and who embody the colorful, often irreverent and sometimes flamboyant traits so much associated with Runyon and his characters.”

During his speech accepting the award on April 13 in Denver, Russert highlighted his excitement over this year’s presidential race.

"I have never in my lifetime observed such a campaign, the level of interest, the level of curiosity, the level of intensity," Russert said. "It’s good. It’s wonderful. It’s awesome for our democracy. The people are engaged. They understand it matters who the president of the United States is."

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper designated April 13 as “Tim Russert Day.”