They couldn't help it from being a sad day, but the hundreds of mourners who attended a private mass and memorial service for Tim Russert did their best to point out the most shining moments of a life well lived.

"As Tim would look out on this gathering, he would say, 'It's wild, it's wild. My family, my closest friends from near and far, the powerful, the ordinary and the largest contingence of all in this room—those who think they should be his successor on Meet the Press," longtime friend and colleague Tom Brokaw began his tribute, drawing hearty laughter from the crowd packed into the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., for this afternoon's memorial.

Among those who shared in the reminiscences of Russert's achievements, reputation and love for his family were fellow journalists Brokaw, Matt Lauer, Bryant Gumbel, Brian Williams, Maria Shriver and New York Times editor Al Hunt; politicos Sen. Barack Obama, Sen. John McCain, former President Bill and Sen. Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, former New York Gov. Mario Cuomo, NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former Sen. Bob Dole.

Williams smilingly recalled how Russert would go to the finest salons to get his hair cut and how "on the day he got it done he looked outstanding for 60 to 90 minutes."

"He regarded a day greeted without real enthusiasm as a sadly lost opportunity," Cuomo, who employed Russert as an aide in the early 1980s, said.

A funeral mass at Holy Trinity Church in Washington's Georgetown neighborhood preceeded the memorial. A loudspeaker broadcast the service to about 100 onlookers outside.

Russert's son, Luke, who recently took a trip to Italy with his dad and mom Maureen Orth to celebrate his graduation from Boston College, gave the eulogy.

"My dad was my best friend," the young man said. "To explain my bond with my father is utterly impossible to put into words."

He entreated the crowd to picture his father moderating a debate in heaven, perhaps between John F. Kennedy and Barry Goldwater or Aaron Burr and Alexander Hamilton.

"Tim Russert led with his heart, his compassion and most of all his honor," Luke said. "I love you, dad, and in his words, let us all go get 'em!"

Russert died Friday of a heart attack while at NBC's Washington bureau recording voiceovers for that Sunday's episode of Meet the Press. He was 58.

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