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Two Extraordinary Men

Andy Rooney Reflects On The Passing Of William F. Buckley And W. C. Heinz

The following is a weekly 60 Minutes commentary by CBS News correspondent Andy Rooney.

While I understand that it is not the kind of information for which you listen to me here on 60 Minutes, I am compelled to tell you that two old friends of mine have died and I am not a good enough writer to describe how bad I feel about them being gone.

One you probably knew, or knew of anyway. The other you probably didn't.

You would have known William F. Buckley because Bill Buckley was the most articulate political conservative in this country. You loved him or you hated him depending on which side you were on, but you were in no doubt about who he was or what he believed about almost anything.

To say Bill was "Republican" was to make him sound like a leftwing Communist. He was far to the right of being just "Republican." I think of myself as being neither Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, but I don't offhand remember any political issue that Bill Buckley and I agreed on. So how come we liked each other? How come I feel so sad that Bill's gone? Well, he was a good guy, that's why.

My less well known friend who died recently was one of the best newspaper reporters who ever lived, W. C. Heinz. He was "Bill Heinz" to friends and he had a lot of them.

It's hard to say why - or hard for me anyway - but many of the best newspaper reporters started at their newspapers in the sports department. I think offhand of Grantland Rice, Red Smith, Stanley Woodward, John Lardner, Joe Leibling and Jimmy Cannon. Bill was the bright star in the sports department of a great newspaper, long gone now, the original "New York Sun." I don't know why great newspapers go out of business but they do.

I knew Bill Heinz as a correspondent in World War II. We traveled with the First US Army Press Camp and often went up to the front together looking for a story. They were never hard to find in those days but you had to be careful not to be killed getting them.

Bill and I did so many dangerous things together more than 60 years ago that we formed a permanent bond of friendship and it seems strange and extraordinarily sad for me that Bill's gone now.

He'll be remembered by newspaper reporters as one the best of there ever was. He'd like that.
Written By Andy Rooney