Aaron Neville sang “Amazing Grace,” and Wynton Marsalis led a brass band and a procession of media glitterati at the memorial for the late CBS newsman Ed Bradley.
Speakers at New York’s Riverside Church remembered the former “60 Minutes” co-editor as a poor black kid from Philadelphia who scaled the highest peak in journalism without ever compromising the style and grace that were his trademark.
Among those crowding the pews were Bill Clinton, Bill Cosby, Jimmy Buffett and Paul Simon, as well as CBS journos past and present including Katie Couric, Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, Lesley Stahl, Mike Wallace, Morley Safer, Andy Rooney and Diane Sawyer.
“He is excellence, intelligence, culture, humor, kindness, soul and fire. He is empathy. He is the blues,” Marsalis said.
Clinton said he knew he “had arrived in national politics when Ed Bradley wanted to interview me. I always preferred watching him interview others.”
Finding “another Ed Bradley is as close to an impossible task as anything in broadcasting,” said “60 Minutes” creator Don Hewitt.
Friend Dick Butera recalled trying to persuade Bradley to scale back his work schedule during his last battle with cancer.
“Dick,” Bradley responded, “I want to die with my boots on.”
Bradley’s wife Patricia wheeled him from the hospital in order to record the voiceover for his last piece on “60 Minutes.” He died Nov. 9 at the age of 65 of complications from leukemia.
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 newsmagazine, 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.”