Walt Bodine “was us,” said Monroe Dodd, a long-time friend and colleague of the legendary newsman, who died last week at 92. Speaking at a packed memorial service this afternoon at Unity Temple on the Plaza, Dodd said Walt had remarkable insights. “He’d toss (them) into the conversation in the form of questions ... they were like firecrackers.”
Dodd went on to recall Walt's "nimble mind ... warm and lively conversation ... and city full of listeners who became friends."
Dodd pointed out that Bodine was born when Woodrow Wilson was president, before the first radio broadcast was made anywhere. He lived through the advent of television and the internet. He pioneered the talk-show genre with a live broadcast from Breton's restaurant. "In Kansas City, Walt was simply an institution," Dodd said.
The service began with jazz pianist Tim Whitmer playing as people walked in and jazz vocalist Millie Edwards singing 'Bridge Over Troubled Water.'
Marty Bodine, the eldest of Walt and Bernadine Bodine’s five children, thanked Walt’s many caregivers, friends and professional colleagues.
Marty recalled growing up with the pioneer of radio and television.
“It was hard for me to see him on TV for the first time,” Marty said. “My mom had to scrape me off the ceiling when I saw him in that little box … not paying any attention to me.”
He always had a cheerful thing to say about everyone up until the end, Marty said, in spite of a host of debilitating maladies.
The memorial continued with an open microphone, at which friends and colleagues offered funny and touching memories of knowing and working with Walt.
KCUR's Steve Bell said Walt taught him first and foremost to "be yourself ... tell it like it is and be as colorful with it as possible."
Sam Mann, Pastor Emeritus of St. Mark's Church, remembered a show Walt pulled together called The Hell Raisers.
"We raised a lot of hell!" Mann proclaimed loudly with a grin. Other "hell raisers" included the late Sid Willens, a lawyer, and housing advocate Ruth Margolin.
Walt Bodine donated his body to science, as did his wife, Bernie.