Oct 13, 2023

Celebration of Life for Jerry Springer happening Friday

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On Friday, the city of Cincinnati paid tribute and remembered iconic talk show host and longtime WLWT anchor Jerry Springer.

Jerry Springer is a household name across America, but even more so here in Cincinnati, where he also served as mayor and as a member of city council.

Springer died in late April at the age of 79 after a pancreatic cancer diagnosis.

Most remember Springer's work that began in the '90s when the national talk show named after him dominated ratings.

Before that, people around Cincinnati knew him as a common local TV fixture sitting on the anchor desk on WLWT.

Shortly before he died, he paid a visit to our station, helping celebrate WLWT's 75th anniversary.

Here's part of what became one of his final interviews and his time on Cincinnati TV.

"You guys were my friends, and we did things together. And we'd go out after the news we'd go down on Second Street or Mount Adams. I remember getting up and singing with the menus. At the local bars there, and it was such a good time, and we were young, you know, it was a wonderful, wonderful time in life," Springer said in the interview.

As local folksinger Casey Campbell led 34 other musicians in a rousing rendition of "Down By The Riverside" this afternoon, one could almost hear the late Jerry Springer say, "Hey, if I'd known it would be this much fun, I'd have stuck around for it."

That was the kind of humor Springer used so effectively in his 79 years of life.

It was interspersed at Memorial Hall today with the type of 60's-era folk music Springer revered and often sang himself.

Family members, friends, political pals, and regular Joe's gathered this noon hour to do what he would have wanted. Have a good time.

On the stage, his daughter, Katie, who inherited his zest for life and love of baseball, spoke delightedly about her father.

His younger sister, Evelyn, recounted the family's post-World War II migration to America and provided fresh insight into the foreshadowing of his celebrity status.

"I often wonder, was there anything in that childhood that would predict what Jerry would become?" she told the crowd of friendly faces. "And one thing that comes to mind is he would stand on the table in the hallway in our home and start pontificating and give his speeches. And if we'd pass by, we'd have to stop and listen to him."

Charlie Luken, who knows what it's like to run a city, was there.

"He was one of those guys when he walked into a room, everybody kind of moved in that direction," he said. "And I don't know why people have that ability. Some people do and he had it all."

Retired WLWT Sports Director George Vogel recalled the years Springer anchored newscasts on the station.

"He was the TV newsroom father for all of us 20, 30-something people," Vogel said."And he was the best. He made it a fun place to work."

Channel 5 executives, managers and staff members were present.

Just one day earlier, it was revealed that Springer will posthumously be inducted into the inaugural WLWT Hall of Fame later this summer.

Vice Mayor Jan Michele Kearney officially proclaimed it Jerry Springer Day in Cincinnati.His friends have spent the past 43 days without him in this world.

But this event was not designed to dwell on their loss, but to celebrate what they gained by knowing him.

In a video tribute, lifelong friend Jene Galvin, who organized the event, spoke about Springer's charitable impulse, his generosity with money and time to advance causes he believed in.

Springer, forever enshrined as a part of Cincinnati history, started his political career in Cincinnati first as a council member, then mayor of the city.

Away from the limelight, he was a comfortable old shoe to his friends, no polish needed.A touching video remembrance from Noel Paul Stookey was shown.

At 85, he is still strumming and giving voice to the songs that the Peter, Paul, and Mary trio made famous.

Part of what inspired Springer as a young man toward social justice, civil rights, and human rights causes was folk music.

He and Galvin did a weekly podcast at a coffeehouse in Ludlow, Kentucky, at one time.

There was no need for anyone at the event to come up with a final thought for the program.

It had already been written and printed on T-shirts. The Springer tagline:

"Take care of yourself and each other."