JFK, 50 years later: Bob Schieffer on picking up Oswald’s mother
Between them, the Schieffer brothers of Fort Worth have moderated presidential debates, anchored network newscasts for 35 years, built a pro baseball stadium and team, and served America as one of our leading diplomats.
From their upbringing 10 years apart in River Oaks and Benbrook, Bob and Tom Schieffer became Fort Worth’s emissaries to Washington and the world.
Last week, both talked about growing up in Fort Worth.
For years, people here actually argued about whether they were Democrats or Republicans, and sometimes even about whether they were brothers.
Bob Schieffer, now 82, was the calm voice delivering even-handed CBS News reports as an anchor and host from 1975 until as recently as a “Face the Nation” appearance April 21.
Former Ambassador Tom Schieffer, 71, was a one-time Texas House Democrat who ran the Texas Rangers, represented America in Australia and Japan under President George W. Bush and then came home in 2009 and ran an eight-month campaign for governor. (His slogan: “Tom for Texas.”)
Bob was a baseball catcher at North Side High School and TCU. Tom went to Arlington Heights High School and the University of Texas.
On Nov. 22, 1963, when President John F. Kennedy spoke in Fort Worth and was later shot in Dallas, Bob was a 26-year-old Star-Telegram reporter who had stayed out till the wee hours showing the White House press corps the town.
He came home just as Tom, 16, was going out to see Kennedy speak downtown where the JFK Tribute now stands.
Later that day, a Star-Telegram reader phoned the newsroom asking for a ride to Dallas because her son had been arrested. So Schieffer and Star-Telegram auto editor Bill Foster picked up Marguerite Oswald.
“We’ve always done very different things, and so has Sharon, and all with a great deal of success,” Tom Schieffer said last week, referring to sister Sharon Schieffer Mayes, in the crowd as the brothers were honored with the Exchange Club’s annual community Golden Deeds Award.
Mayes, a teacher and principal, was praised by both brothers along with their mother, Gladys, a Democratic Party precinct chair in the days when that party’s moderate wing governed Texas.
“I don’t think we ever thought of ourselves as sibling rivals — our mother wouldn’t have stood for that,” Tom Schieffer said.
“Our father [John worked in construction] died when I was 10. Bob became the father figure. Then he went to the Air Force, came back and moved right back to help take care of me.”
Bob Schieffer and his wife, Pat, have lived in Washington or New York 50 years. Tom Schieffer and his wife, Susanne, came home from Japan in 2009 to Westworth Village, not far from the little frame homes where the Schieffers grew up on first Kessler Road and then Merritt Street.
“I still think of myself as being from Fort Worth,” Bob Schieffer said.
“Fort Worth is different. It’s one of the the few places left in America that still has its own personality — San Francisco, Seattle, Boston, New Orleans, Fort Worth, they’re all just different from other cities.”
I’ve told his story here before. He first saw a then-new TV with his family in a store window as they walked into The Original Mexican Restaurant in Arlington Heights. He went on to become a KXAS/Channel 5 anchor, went to Washington and still works at CBS News after 50 years.
He makes it a point to hit Joe T. Garcia’s, Angelo’s Bar-B-Que and the old ball diamonds at Rockwood Park when he’s here.
“We just drive around and see how much Fort Worth has changed,” he said.
Tom Schieffer is here working weekdays downtown, but he also talks about The Original, Joe T.’s and barbecue restaurants.
“I think Fort Worth is a city growing and thriving for the better,” he said.
“People take a lot of pride in living in Fort Worth, and they should. And the single greatest accomplishment for both Dallas and Fort Worth is DFW Airport. ... Fort Worth is known for that airport. I think it’s emerging as a dynamic city.”
At the Exchange Club dinner hosted by downtown businessmen in the Fort Worth Club, the Schieffers were honored for their local work in higher education. Bob as a TCU trustee and namesake of the Schieffer College of Communication and Tom as a Tarrant County College supporter and trustee.
Tom Schieffer was also honored for his work as president of the Rangers, the only major league sports team that has ever called Tarrant County home for any length of time, and in building what now called Globe Life Park.
”Both Tom and I were stunned about this,” Bob Schieffer said,
“The first recipient of the Golden Deeds Award was Amon Carter,” he said, referring to the Star-Telegram co-founder and builder of a city, a communications empire and a citywide philanthropic legacy.
“Look, I don’t get in the same paragraph or or the same page as Amon Carter. This is very humbling.”
It was a chance to love the Schieffer brothers the way they’ve always loved Fort Worth.