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Mourners say goodbye to radio pioneer Paul Harvey

Sunday, March 8, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CST

CHICAGO — Radio legend Paul Harvey's own words became his eulogy Saturday at a public funeral service in Chicago, the city from which he launched his national news and commentary show.

During the service, the broadcaster's son, Paul Harvey Jr., quoted from his father's send-off for President Franklin Roosevelt. "A great tree has fallen," Harvey Jr. said. "An empty place has opened up against the sky."

A large bouquet of red roses lay atop the closed mahogany casket at Fourth Presbyterian Church on the city's Magnificent Mile where about 200 mourners gathered. Among them were Harvey's newsroom colleagues, ABC Radio Networks executives and Doug Limerick, one of two broadcasters chosen to fill Harvey's time slots.

Harvey died Feb. 28 in Phoenix, where he had a winter home. He was 90. His wife of nearly 68 years, Lynne Harvey, died in May. Their son recalled the couple's long romance for the mourners gathered, and said his father had taught him carpentry skills in an effort to make him independent.

He told stories of his father's childhood, dwelling on Harvey's lifelong love of flying. Once as a child, Harvey build a model plane that didn't work, and, rather than abandon it, he rested it in the branches of a tree, Harvey Jr. said. When his father first applied for a job on radio, he was given a broom and told to sweep up.

Harvey Jr. said his father would have wanted to help mold reaction to the country's current difficulties.

"It was a dignified eulogy delivered in a 'rest of the story'-type style," said Bruce DuMont, founder and president of the Museum of Broadcast Communications. "It exemplified the dignity of Paul Harvey."

Chicago Tribune media columnist Phil Rosenthal attended the service and said Harvey Jr. summed up his father's life in a way that Paul Harvey's fans would know well.

"You can hear his father in his words," he said. "I think people are starting to realize what we've lost."

Standing outside the church in the day's chilly, overcast weather, Chicago resident and businessman Gregory Fischer, 49, said he felt compelled to attend the service because he could remember listening to Harvey as a child. Fischer said that as an adult, he's realized that he was listening to a broadcasting trailblazer.

"He was a part of Americana," he said. "It was like he was talking directly to you."

Harvey had been heard nationally since 1951, when he began his "News and Comment" for ABC Radio Networks. He was credited with inventing or popularizing terms such as "skyjacker," ''Reaganomics" and "guesstimate." Staccato delivery, long pauses and phrases like "Stand by for news!" were Harvey's hallmarks.

In 2005, Harvey was one of 14 notables chosen as recipients of the presidential Medal of Freedom. He also was an inductee in the Radio Hall of Fame, as was Lynne.

 


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