Retired ABC National Security correspondent John McWethy, who died in a skiing accident Feb. 6, got a send-off from friends and colleagues at a memorial service at the Newseum in Washington.
Many ABC staffers were familiar with the venue. Although the Newseum doesn’t open–reopen actually–until April, ABC is going to be producing This Week from the Newseum’s state of the art studios.
One staffer in attendance said that the crowd filled the auditorium with people "in the rafters."
That crowd that gathered at the Newsem included ABC News President David Westin; World News anchor Charles Gibson, or as almost everybody at ABC but show’s announcer calls him, Charlie Gibson; Martha Raddatz;, Ann Compton; and military types including Lt. Gen. Gregory Newbold; and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. Gibson stuck around to anchor the newscast from D.C.
Sam Donaldson spoke, as did CBS’s national security correspondent David Martin. Dr. Timothy Johnson gave the invocation and there was a retrospective of clips from the "zillion places" McWethy had been for ABC. Music was supplied by a member of the Army chorus–a lovely rendition of "Shall We Gather At the River" and a string quartet.and pianist.
Martin spoke extensively about the competition between the two during their time at the Pentagon. He said that CBS had brought him in for one reason–to go head to head with McWethy and try to take him down. Instead, he said, McWethy lifted him up. He said he knew he had to be better because McWethy brought his "A game" every day.
He also brought an integrity to his work that made both his bosses and the subjects of hir reporting respect him equally, they said.
Both Westin and Gibson talked about a ski trip they shared with McWethy, who took notes on the plane for a skull session about life, the universe and everything during the trip. While the questions started out with best movie and favorite meal, said Gibson, they soon moved to deeper ones about what was important in life.
The hot tub was eventually fired up and someone dared the group to make like the Polar Bear\’ club and jump into the snow. You know who issued the dare, said Gibson, and who led the way, with a grin on his face.
The common theme among almost all the speakers was that McWethy had his priorities in order, that as important as it was for him to do his job well, and they said he did it better than anyone, family was always his first priority. Never confuse your career with your life, he once told a graduating class, and his friends suggested he never did.