New York -- Hundreds of mourners packed St. Bartholomew's Church here Monday morning to pay their last respects to Roone
Arledge, former president of ABC News and Sports, who passed away from
complications due to cancer last Thursday at the age of 71.
Diane Sawyer, Barbara Walters, Ted Koppel, Peter Jennings and Frank Gifford
eulogized Arledge, as did ABC News president David Westin and former ABC News
and NBC News executive Dick Wald.
The church was packed with media heavyweights including Jennings'
competitors, Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather, as well as Walter Cronkite, NBC Sports president
Dick Ebersol, former NBC and ABC executive Don Ohlmeyer, The Walt Disney Co. bosses Michael
Eisner and Robert Iger, News Corp. chairman Rupert Murdoch and National Basketball Association
commisssioner David Stern.
Koppel, like most of the others, joked about Arledge's reputation for often
being unreachable, and he said that at one point, he wrote a letter of resignation,
which Arledge, characteristically, ignored.
But they eventually had a long lunch, "After three-and-a-half hours, I was in love."
Koppel said. "All in all it was a stormy affair that lasted 25 years" he added,
noting that when one was in Arledge's good graces, "it was a warm and sunny
place to be."
But he said, "Outside that bubble was a cold and lonely place."
The context, though, was that staffers at ABC News revered Arledge.
They just didn't always get a chance to see him.
"He loved all of us ... at one point or the other," Jennings joked.
He added, "Oh, the things we said behind his back. And oh, the things he said
behind our back ... God, we were arrogant, and Roone knew it, of course, and he
Wald said he met Arledge at Columbia University in 1948, when both were
freshmen and were supposed to line up in alphabetical order to sign up for
Arledge turned to Wald and introduced himself and Wald, hearing Arledge's last
name, gently asked if he shouldn't be in a different line.
"No. This one's shorter," Arledge told Wald. "I knew at that that moment,"
Wald related, "that I was in the presence of a truly great pain in the ass."
One of the last times Wald talked to the increasingly ailing Arledge, he asked
how his pain-management therapy was working.
Arledge responded, "Oh, it's OK. It's like an affiliates meeting with