A Fond Farewell To Ed Bradley

Former President Bill Clinton at the memorial service for longtime CBS News journalist Ed Bradley held at the Riverside Church in New York Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2006, in this image taken from video. CBS

Family, friends and colleagues gathered Tuesday to bid a fond farewell to veteran CBS News correspondent Ed Bradley, who died Nov. 9 at the age of 65 of complications from leukemia.

A long list of entertainers, journalists, politicians and musicians from across the country packed New York's Riverside Church for the memorial service, reflecting Bradley's achievements and diverse interests.

For all the tributes to his career — Vietnam, the White House, his 500 60 Minutes stories about the famous and the infamous — today was not about his career but his character, reports CBS News national correspondent Byron Pitts. He was a 6th grade math teacher from Philadelphia who went on to educate a nation.

Former President Bill Clinton called Bradley "a brilliant and insatiably curious traveler on a relentless lifetime quest to get to the bottom of things. He was like the great jazz musicians he so admired. He always played in the key of reason. His songs were full of the notes of facts but he knew to make the most of music you have to improvise."

Mr. Clinton said he knew he "had arrived in national politics when Ed Bradley wanted to interview me. I always preferred watching him interview others."

Others in attendance were comedian Bill Cosby; the Rev. Jesse Jackson; New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg; singers Aaron Neville, Jimmy Buffet and Paul Simon; and a who's who from the world of television news including Katie Couric, Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, Lesley Stahl, Mike Wallace, Morley Safer, Andy Rooney and Diane Sawyer.

"Finding another Ed Bradley is as close to an impossible task as anything in broadcasting," said "60 Minutes" creator Don Hewitt.

Beginning his career at a time when there were only a handful of black journalists, Bradley is widely credited with opening doors and breaking down barriers for journalists of color. He spent 25 years with the venerable news magazine, winning numerous awards, including 20 Emmys, the latest for an interview with astronaut Neil Armstrong.

"I always thought his greatest achievement was the artistry with which he lived his life," said Bradley's "60 Minutes" colleague Steve Kroft. "If he had any regrets I never heard them. And it was a great life. A great life."

Music was a big part of Bradley's life and Tuesday's memorial as well, with performances from Jimmy Buffet and pianist Allen Toussaint; Aaron Neville, who sang "Amazing Grace"; jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis; and a New Orleans funeral brass band, which ended the service playing "When the Saints Go Marching In," as the audience waved handkerchiefs in the air, a New Orleans tradition.
  • Joel Roberts

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