Reading about Louis Rekeyser’s death last week and listening to a special hosted by CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo reminded me of an interview I did years ago with Rukeyser’s remarkable father, Merryle S. Rukeyser (Jan. 3, 1897 — Dec. 21, 1988).
It must have been in 1988, just months before his death. (Update: I went back and checked the files; it was about a month and a half before this death.)
He was a very sharp 91-year-old.
I had been invited to the home of his son, William S. Rukeyser, for a brief interview. We sat outside for a bit. He rested his hands on a cane and was wearing a plaid suit.
You could see a lot of the Rukeyser’s trademark TV personality in the dad, tough independent thinker.
He told me anecdotes from his newspapering days and gave me some advice on understanding economic news.
He was fascinating. Listening to him speak, I could see how its accent and style of speaking and even his wit were reflected in how I had heard and seen Louis Rukeyser speak for many years on PBS.
On Credibility: “You get credibility if you don’t try to tell people what you don’t know.”
On the value of a college education: “If you have the will, you learn a lot. If you’re a loafer, you learn nothing.”
He was a powerhouse business and economics journalist. In this day and time of round-the-clock business news, I’m sure he would have as much of a household name as his most famous son.
He said a boyfirned of his sister suggested he go into journalism. He declined at first, saying: “Well now, it’s a nice profession, but it doesn’t pay too much.” He entered journalism school at the age of 16.
At least one of his books is still being sold on Amazon: reprints of the 1924 classic “The Common Sense of Money and Investments“
The elder Rukeyser wrote a syndicated column called “Everybody’s Money.”
He was financial editor of the New York Tribune and the New York Evening Journal. He was educated at Columbia University and later taught journalism there.
He had a career in journalism that spanned more than 30 years.
One brief bio of him says:
Mr. Rukeyser got his marching orders from William Randolph Hearst, who told him to “humanize and simplify” financial news, which he did for nearly all his professional life. He saw himself, principally, as a teacher of financial matters.
While Louis certainly was the most well-known of the family, the four sons have all had successful careers in media, either on the news side or the PR side.
William S. Rukeyser, who lives in Knoxville, has had a distinguished journalism career with Time, Money, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, CNBC, and the company that brought him to Knoxville, Whittle Communications. He helped found Money and was its first managing editor. He was with Time Inc. for 21 years.
Son Merryle S. “Bud” Rukeyser was a longtime communications chief at NBC.
I believe the fourth son, Robert, was involved in public relations as well, but I’m not sure where..
So in Louis Rekeyser’s death, I pause to recall another Rukeyser.