CHICAGO – The son of radio legend Paul Harvey used his father's words for the eulogy Saturday at a public funeral service in Chicago, the city from which he launched his national news and commentary show.
"A great tree has fallen," said Paul Harvey Jr., quoting his father's send-off for President Franklin Roosevelt. "An empty place has opened up against the sky."
The broadcaster died Feb. 28 in Phoenix, where he had a winter home, less than year after the death of his wife of nearly 68 years, Lynne Harvey. He was 90.
Their son recalled the couple's long romance and his father's start on radio for the 200 mourners at the Fourth Presbyterian Church on the city's Magnificent Mile. When his father first applied for a job on radio, he was given a broom and told to sweep up, Harvey Jr. said.
The elder Harvey would have wanted to help mold reaction to the country's current difficulties, his son said.
Harvey's newsroom colleagues, ABC Radio Networks executives and Doug Limerick, one of two broadcasters chosen to fill Harvey's time slots, attended the service.
"You can hear his father in his words," Chicago Tribune media columnist Phil Rosenthal said of Harvey's son. "I think people are starting to realize what we've lost."
"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."
Standing outside the church in overcast weather, Chicago resident and businessman Gregory Fischer 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 received the presidential Medal of Freedom. He also was an inductee in the Radio Hall of Fame, as was his wife.