Thursday, May 04, 2006

R.I.P. Louis Rukeyser

Louis Rukeyser, host of PBS's Wall Street Week from 1972-2002, died on Tuesday at age 73. Now, I wasn't what you would call a big fan of Wall Street Week, but Rukeyser was an integral part of my childhood in a weird way, and reading about his death both made me sad and brought back some nice memories. When I was a kid, my grandfather, Monte Gordon, who was an analyst for Dreyfus, would appear from time to time on Wall Street Week, talking about some financial subject or other (I didn't understand it at age 8, and I probably wouldn't understand it now). Of course, every time he was on, my mom would tape the show and we would all gather around the TV and watch it. I don't remember a single thing my grandfather ever said on the show, but I do remember Lou Rukeyser, to whom I took an immediate liking. All of the obits describe him as witty and warm, and I suppose that's what I responded to as a child. He just seemed friendly, and nice, not too imposing like most old men are when you're a kid. I remember thinking, with a kid's logic, that he looked like George Washington. Which means I must have thought he was pretty old back then, so it sort of surprised me that he was only 73 when he died.

After my grandfather stopped appearing on the show, I never watched Wall Street Week again, but I always remembered Lou Rukeyser. It was nice knowing that he was around, dispensing financial wisdom with some humor and friendliness, sitting around with guys in ties like my grandfather, talking about stocks I'd never heard of. Watching that show as a kid was a bit like getting a glimpse into some secret adult club, and it's something I'll always remember fondly.

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