Tim Russert

Tim Russert

Tim Russert, the long-time moderator of "Meet the Press" and the Washington bureau chief at NBC News, died Friday of an apparent heart attack. He was 58.

Russert collapsed Friday afternoon at the NBC News offices in the capital. Tom Brokaw broke in to MSNBC's regular coverage shortly about 3:40 p.m. ET to announce the news.

"Tim loved his family, his faith, his country, politics, the Buffalo Bills, the New York Yankees and the Washington Nationals," Brokaw said in remembering his colleague. The former "NBC Nightly News" anchor also called Russert a "beloved colleague" and "one of the premier journalists of our time."

A native of Buffalo, N.Y., Russert worked as the chief of staff for Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York from 1977-82 and a counselor to then-New York Gov. Mario Cuomo in 1983-84.

He joined NBC News in 1984 and made a name for himself the following year by arranging an appearance by Pope John Paul II on "Today" when the show broadcast from Rome. He took over as moderator of "Meet the Press" in 1991 and became the longest-serving host in the show's 60-year history. He also hosted an eponymous weekly show on MSNBC and appeared as a political analyst on other NBC programs, winning a laundry list of awards for his work along the way.

Among other things, he'll be remembered for scribbling electoral college calculations on a white board as the increasingly close and confusing returns came in on election night in 2000. He also wrote two best-selling books -- "Big Russ and Me," a 2004 memoir of growing up with his father, and "Wisdom of Our Fathers," a follow-up based on letters he received in response to the earlier book.

Russert is survived by his wife, writer Maureen Orth, and son Luke. He had recently returned from a trip to Italy with his family to celebrate Luke's graduation from college.