A former student’s tribute to Richard Durrett


    As I watched the TCU baseball game and finished my news package for the 11:00 newscast at WCAX on Tuesday, I received an interesting text. The text was stunning in its message and breathtaking in its brevity. It read simply: Richard Durrett died.

    I was stunned. I knew Richard from my time at TCU and from my time covering TCU and the Big 12. Richard was a TCU alumnus who had spent a decade covering Dallas sports for both the Dallas Morning News and ESPN Dallas. He was respected and beloved.

    As I went through the Schieffer School of Journalism at TCU, Richard was frequently around to offer advice or sit in on a class. He was always generous with his time and his advice.

    I will always remember the first time I saw him work. It was during a Texas Rangers World Series game. After a throng of interviews, Richard was listening to his recorder, and he never stopped it once. He was able to type faster than anyone I had ever seen–keeping up with each word as the managers and players explained the ins and outs of the game that had just ended.

    He typed what would take the rest of us 20 minutes in 10 minutes. It was impressive. 

    I respected all of his work, and I frequently read his stories just to note his style or how he conveyed certain ideas. By just watching him work, I gleaned a lot of tidbits about writing and journalism.

    I really believe that nothing haunts us like promise unfulfilled. Richard was fulfilling his potential as a talented writer, but his passing is a solemn reminder of just how fleeting life can be. 

    We take for granted the presence of certain people in our lives. While I did not know Richard to the extent that many others did, in a purely Richard Durrett kind of way, our interactions were always meaningful. I always felt like he cared.

    And he always did.

    That’s why so many people have offered words of condolence and remembrance since his passing. His generosity and selflessness was not something that just a few people witnessed. He gave the best of himself to everyone. That’s what made him special.

    As Ted Kennedy was giving a eulogy for his brother Robert, he said that Robert need not be idealized in death to be larger than he was in life. That’s true for all of us. However, I have not read one word that was not entirely true of Richard Durrett’s life. In many ways, his life is hard to sum up in a matter of words. 

    It’s ironic really. As he spent his life writing word after word, his own life is not something that can be described in those words. 

    Not even 40 years old, Richard Durrett had decades of stories left to write. He had numerous lives left to touch, and he had two young children to watch grow up. 

    I’m thankful for the short time I had with him. There are people that we think we can’t live without but have to let go. Richard is one of them. 

    As I sit in my apartment in Burlington and pen these words, I am looking out my window at an auburn sky. I know Richard Durrett is looking down on all of us. 

    I can’t wait until we meet again in heaven. I’ll be eagerly awaiting more of his tips. 

    Of all the words written about Richard in the past days, one tweet stands out in my mind. More true it could not be. 

    Ryan Osborne, a fellow TCU alum and young journalist, was reflecting about the time Richard Durrett had spent with him giving pointers on a story or tips on a lede. 

    Ryan appropriately summed up those interactions. It wasn’t the advice, he said. It was the time.

    So thank you, Richard Durrett. Thank you for the time. I just wish we had more of it. 

    Alex Apple graduated from TCU in December 2013 with degrees in journalism and political science.