John F. Kennedy’s memory lingers nearly half a century after his assassination, and that was apparent at "Fort Worth Remembers JFK," a memoriam event held at TCU Wednesday.
About 1,200 people filled Ed Landreth Auditorium to witness CBS News' Chief Washington Correspondent Bob Schieffer moderate "Fort Worth Remembers JFK."
All public seats were taken within days of becoming available. TCU's Schieffer School of Journalism and Strategic Communication, the university's Office of Community Projects and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram made the free event possible.
“I’m very interested in the Kennedys, all of them,” sophomore political science major Maddie Reddick said. “I think I got my ticket the first day.”
Panelists included former local radio personalities Gary DeLaune and Bob Huffaker, former Dallas Morning News reporter Hugh Aynesworth, actor/director Bill Paxton, who witnessed the assassination as a child, and Mike Cochran, a former Fort Worth Associated Press correspondent and Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter.
Huffaker reportedly broadcasted TV's first murder when Jack Ruby killed Oswald. DeLaune is said to have given the first radio broadcast of Kennedy's death.
“Fort Worth just opened up its heart to Kennedy,” Cochran said. “It was something to behold.”
Schieffer was a reporter for the Star-Telegram at the time and took a call in the newsroom from Lee Harvey Oswald’s mother. He described the events as the weekend America lost its innocence.
Fort Worth resident Loretta Hudson said she enjoyed the event and recalls being inspired by Kennedy’s youthfulness. She was thirteen living in Missouri when Kennedy was shot.
“I was just heartbroken, she said. “We were just so enthralled with him.”
The crowd heard testimony via video from Dr. Kenneth Salyer, a craniologist, and Margaret Hinchcliffe, one of the nurses who helped treat Kennedy after he was rushed to Parkland Memorial Hospital.
“They told me who it was,” Hinchcliffe said. “And they almost had to pick me up off the floor.”
Salyer described in graphic detail the condition of JFK’s skull after the shooting.
“A Catholic priest came and gave him his last rites,” he said. “And they whisked him out of the room.”
DeLaune said, “It is so vivid. It was a day I’ll never forget.”
DeLaune was upset, he said, at how Texas and Dallas were treated following the assassination.
“It’s too bad we didn’t get together a long time ago and talk about it,” Paxton said. “There’s a healing that needs to take place in North Texas.”
Dallas resident Venita Barnard also attended the event. She was a sophomore in her English class when Kennedy was killed.
"It was a daze," she said. “We did lose our innocence that day,”