[Congressional Record Volume 140, Number 87 (Friday, July 1, 1994)]
[House]
[Page H]
From the Congressional Record Online through the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]


[Congressional Record: July 1, 1994]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

 
                  HONORING THE MEMORY OF MORRIS SIEGEL

  Mr. DODD. Mr. President, on Thursday, June 2, 1994, Morris Siegel 
died at the age of 78, and the city of Washington lost its premiere 
sportswriter and one of its most colorful and lovable personalities.
  Morrie Siegel covered sports for this town for almost half a century. 
He did it in a manner and a style reminiscent of the legendary 
sportswriters of the past.
  But as his friends Ben Bradlee, former Editor-in-Chief of the 
Washington Post, and Shirley Povich, dean of Washington's sportswriters 
and the man who gave Morrie his first job here at the Post in 1946, 
have said, Morrie was more than just a sportswriter: he was a real 
newspaperman. No one worked harder to get the story, and no one took 
greater delight in scooping the competition. His sources were vast, 
varied, and impeccable. His writing had the wit and color of Runyon; 
the clarity and simplicity of Hemingway.
  Like the legends of his field, he did not just work the sidelines and 
the locker rooms in search of a story. He worked the trains and planes, 
the hotel lobbies and coffee shops, the restaurants and bars here in 
Washington and around the country. It was in those restaurants and 
bars--often after-hours joints--that Morrie found and wrote some of his 
best and most colorful stories. And it was in those same places that 
the legend of Mo Siegel was born and grew to gargantuan proportions.
  At his table on any given night, and often into the wee hours of the 
morning, could be found politicians, lawyers and judges, sports heroes 
and writers, celebrities and movie stars, bookies and gamblers. There 
they would sit, hour upon hour in rapt attention as Mo convulsed them 
with stories of ``the famous people who know me.'' His gift for 
storytelling was epic. Name a famous or an infamous character from the 
present or past and Mo could recount in uproarious detail times they 
had spent together.
  No one had a quicker wit. Once at a Washington Senators game, to 
which he had been invited by a group of sportswriters, Earl Warren, 
after thanking his hosts for their company and hospitality, added that 
if there was anything he could do for them in return, they should not 
hesitate to call. Without missing a beat, Mo whipped out a parking 
ticket he had received, shoved it into Warren's hand and asked the 
Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court to get it fixed for him.
  One of Morrie's son Michael's favorite one-liners of his father's 
happened one night when Morrie arrived late to a dinner at which he was 
the master of ceremonies. It was just at the end of the Persian Gulf 
war and the crowd was getting restless and a bit surly because of the 
delay. Undaunted, Morrie bounded up to the microphone and quickly won 
them over by explaining, ``I would have been here on time but my 
cabdriver kept trying to surrender to me.''
  That and more was the public Mo Siegel--a marvelous writer, a gifted 
raconteur, a true newspaperman. That and more was the private Morrie 
Siegel. It's true that he could be a bit cantankerous at times, but he 
was always a joy to be with. You could not have a better friend. He was 
loyal and loving. Your problems were his concerns, and your happiness 
was his delight. If you did something for him, he could not find enough 
ways to express his thanks. To those of us in public life who have 
become forced to be guarded and suspicious of the media, even when we 
are relaxing with the press, Morrie was a rare gem. He was completely 
trustworthy--a value that is not too common around this town.
  The true loves of his life were his children, Leah and Michael, and 
his former wife, Myra MacPherson, who continued to be his best friend, 
even after their divorce. How he continually marveled at Myra's talent 
as a writer and mother. How he trumpeted Leah's career and recent 
marriage.
  How proud he was of Michael's work in government and politics. It was 
their love for their friend and father that gave Morrie the strength to 
fight the cancer that ravaged him these past 6 years, and it was their 
love that allowed him to continue to file his stories and regale his 
friends up to the moment he died with Leah holding his hand.
  On the Monday following his death, his family, friends and colleagues 
filled to overflowing the Washington Hebrew Congregation for a final 
tribute to Morrie. Speaker after speaker recalled tales by Siegel and 
tales of Siegel. For two solid hours the room rocked with laughter--not 
usually the case in such a place at such a time. But it was the only 
fitting way to remember Morrie and the utter joy he brought to those he 
touched and loved.
  The next morning in the Post, Tony Kornheiser ended his moving and 
magnificent farewell to Morrie by writing:

     Isn't laughter wonderful?
     Father John Myslinski, who had the
     task of following Russell (political
     humorist Mark Russell) quoted a
     religious philosopher who wrote,
     ``Joy is the ineffable sign of the
     presence of God.''
     And if that is true, God was in the
     house yesterday, laughing with the
     rest of us who loved Mo Siegel.

  Michael closed the celebration by saying to all how proud he and Leah 
are to be the kids of Morris Siegel. Mr. President, I am equally proud 
to have been his friend.

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