Brian Williams: The Middletown Townie
A little Patch insight and some extra quotes from the NBC Nightly News anchor and Middletown native
When Patch met Middletown native and NBC Nightly News Anchor Brian Williams last week, one of the first things out of his mouth was, “I’m an old townie.”
And he is. The newsman, who came home to speak at a Monmouth Medical Center’s annual Power of Pink breast cancer fundraiser on Sandy Hook, remains rooted in and loyal to the township in which he was raised.
He told roughly 250 attendees at the luncheon just that as he credited community grounding and true love of thy neighbor with being the best basis for a better quality of life, especially when trying to cheat death.
His sister — also a Middletown native and resident until she lost her battle with breast cancer in 2006 — had that quality of life, he said. He spoke of her and his own experiences as a Middletown townie during his speech and in a chat with Patch before it.
Here are a few things, gleaned from those interactions, you should know about a homegrown Brian Williams:
• On community service
Williams was a member of Old Village Fire Company and Fairview First Aid. He came back to town to take a tour and a spin in a fire truck back in the early 1990s. That trip took him to the former Courier newspaper.
• On working it
Though we knew it, Brian told us that his first job was delivering the Courier. “Awe, I see the old Courier is no more,” he said in our chat. “You know, I visited some time ago … The Courier had the only picture of me on a fire truck.”
Williams also worked at Sears and Perkin's Pancake House, now Middletown Pancake House. The pancake house was a popular place for Mater Dei students to work in the 1970s.
• On Middletown schooling
Williams attended Middletown Village School. He graduated from Mater Dei High School, in the New Monmouth section of town, in 1977 and earned a proud 18 credits from Brookdale Community College, in the Lincroft section of Middletown. In true form of Middletown in the 1970s, his prom was at Buck(y) Smith’s in North Middletown (what used to be called East Keansburg) and danced to “If” by Bread. “I thought that song was the most profound in the universe,” he said.
• On current events
Williams mentioned the tragedy of the fatal Statesir Place fire and recalled how he had friends who lived on the street years back. He talked about how it was on network news, but he was eager to see the local perspective on Patch.
He also chatted and chuckled about how notoriously strict Chief Joseph McCarthy was on the beat when he was a teen and how the turnover in police chiefs in Middletown has, in essence, given a unique stamp of leadership to each era then and after.
* On Middletown news of old and nowadays
Williams talked about how critical he feels it is to capture a strong sense of the community in which any story is seeped. He was quick to mention how much he admired old-time local journalists and icons Tinker Foderaro and Doris Kulman (who died not long ago).
When he found out there was a hyper local on line Middletown-NJ.Patch.com, he said, “You made my day! I can’t wait to get home and peruse the site.”
And Patch is happy to have the new following. Thanks, Brian! Middletown appreciates your loyalty. Come back soon! In the meantime, for those who missed the story last week on Brian Williams’ homecoming, check out our slideshow (click on "video") above and click here for last week’s story.
** Special thanks to Shawn Huber, Monmouth Medical Center photogrpaher, for providing a few of the photos in the collage.