Studs Terkel knew the real America. The America of grit and gumption, heart and soul, passion and nerve. He chronicled five generations of American history with a compassionate and deep understanding of the American character.
He was the quintessential American writer. He was our Boswell, our Whitman, our Sandburg. He was able to get people to open up and share their innermost thoughts and their deepest dreams. In the words of Kipling, “He walked with kings and never lost the common touch.”
Infused in each word he wrote and in his spoken word, he was a master story-teller and could regale groups for literally hours with his deep understanding of human nature its possibilities and its foibles. He was a person of great appetites and his greatest appetite was for the truth. America has lost a tribune of the people. But the power of his prose lives on.
Studs was a dear friend. My wife, Elizabeth, and I have enjoyed many visits in Studs’s home. His good humor was a constant even during a visit a couple of years ago when he was recovering from heart surgery.
I was touched by the forward he wrote to my book, A Prayer for America. I’ll never forget the encouragement he gave me to run for president in 2004.