Of all the things I feel the need to write about right now, just one stands out in my mind. I found out yesterday that Royal Marshall, longtime co-host, producer, and engineer of the Neal Boortz show died suddenly and unexpectedly at his home in Atlanta on Saturday morning. When I heard the news, I was in shock. Royal was only 43 years old, married with two young daughters. He was so happy and he loved his life and it seems so weird that when we tune in tomorrow to Boortz, it isn't going to be the same. Royal had become a friend to millions over the years and we will miss him greatly.
I first tuned into Boortz in 1996 and from the first broadcast I was hooked. I liked the show because it wasn't left or right, it was just common sense. Every day I looked forward to listening to the show and I especially loved the banter between Neal and Royal and Belinda. There were so many times Neal and Royal vehemently disagreed on issues. In a way Royal was Neal's conscience. Both would argue but never in anger. Both were adamant about their stance on the issues but they never became rude or nasty to one another. Neal and Royal proved that you could respectfully disagree on an issue and still remain friends and colleagues. I loved the disagreements between them because they both brought out important points of view and they were both very passionate about their position on the issues. As much as they may have argued sometimes, the respect and admiration they had for each other was always there. It did not take long to understand that they were not just colleagues and friends, they were family.
I remember for years when he was single Royal would travel to Rio on vacation and Neal would tease him about it. Royal looked forward to his vacation, talked about the gorgeous women in Rio and when he got back he'd tell us all about his trip. I remember when Royal got married, here I thought he was the eternal bachelor but he proved us wrong. I recall how he talked about Annette and how wonderful she was and you could hear the happiness in his voice. And when his wife was pregnant with their first child, he talked about it all the time, and those of us who tuned in regularly were so happy for him. Neal would tell him all the things to prepare for and how it would change his life and Royal listened to him, taking in all the advice. I would say that Royal had it all. He had a wonderful family he always put first, he had a strong faith, was active in his church and he had a job he loved along with many friends and people who cared about him. He never set out to be a role model for young black men but he was just that. Just by being a good person with character, honesty and integrity he became the kind of person young black men wanted to be like. And he didn't even have to try to be like that, he just was.
So many things sadden me about his death--that he was only 43--two years older than me, that he was a father of two young girls who will grow up without his love and guidance, the emptiness felt by those in his church where he was so involved as a Deacon, and that the conscience of the Boortz show is forever gone. Royal may be in a better place but it's always hard for those left behind. I feel for his family, his friends and his colleagues for losing an amazing person in their lives. If anything his death reminds us once again how short life is and how we must continue to strive to make the most of it because in one split second it could all come to an end.