THOMASTON, Maine — Veteran CBS newsman Bob Schieffer had planned to retire a year ago, but is glad he didn’t.
He has filled the months with a whirlwind of activities which include promoting his new book, “Bob Schieffer’s America,” receiving a lifetime achievement Emmy Award, and moderating the final presidential debate between John McCain and Barack Obama.
The broadcast journalist will share tales from these experiences and many others at “An Evening with Bob Schieffer,” a fundraising event for the General Henry Knox Museum in Thomaston to be held next week at the Strand Theatre in Rockland. Schieffer also will be the museum’s honoree at a private gala dinner held after-ward at Camden National Bank’s historic Spear building.
The talk will be interesting, promised Molly Kellogg, vice chair of the museum’s board of trustees and a friend of Schieffer’s since the 1960s.
“Bob is a true Renaissance man,” Kellogg said. “He’s an artist, not just a broadcaster.”
She described the reporter — who has clocked 40 years at CBS News and 52 years in journalism — as an “old Washington hand.” He’s one of the few broadcast journalists to have covered each of the four most important capital beats of the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department and Capitol Hill. Schieffer has covered every presidential campaign since 1972, and has been a floor reporter at all of the Democratic and Republican national conventions since then.
Kellogg and Schieffer, both native Texans, met in Washington through the Texas State Society when Kellogg, a seasonal resident of Thomaston, was working for Rep. J.J. Pickle of Austin.
In addition to moderating the Sunday morning news show “Face The Nation” — which he has done since 1991 — Schieffer keeps busy writing books and poetry, singing with the Washington, D.C., band Honky Tonk Confidential, and painting.
He’s making a whirlwind trip to Maine to speak at the Strand Theatre event, but Kellogg suspects he’ll have time to enjoy lobsters and take in some of the scenery.
He’ll also have time to visit the General Henry Knox Museum, a replica of the mansion where George Washington’s first secretary of war lived. Knox was a Revolutionary War patriot, and during the winter of 1776 carted 60 tons of captured cannons from Fort Ticonderoga in New York to Dorchester Heights, Mass. With the help of the cannons, the Americans could drive the British from Boston Harbor, according to the museum. Throughout the war, the able military strategist remained by Washington’s side, and eventually rose to the rank of major general.
After serving 10 years as secretary of war, Knox was ready to retire to the life of a gentleman farmer, and in 1795 he moved his family to the Montpelier mansion. In Maine, Knox shipped timber, quarried lime, made bricks, built canals on the Georges River, speculated in land and dabbled in agriculture, according to museum officials. His wife, Lucy, had inherited land in the District of Maine through her mother, the daughter of Brig. Gen. Samuel Waldo. Lucy was fond of gambling, museum officials said, and it’s rumored she lost the towns of Camden and Rockport in a whist game gone wrong.
The museum had been run by the state, but was turned over to the nonprofit group Friends of Montpelier in 1999. It has an annual operating budget of about $400,000, and the annual gala fundraiser might raise as much as $40,000 of that.
“We feel we’ll have a sold-out situation,” Kellogg said.
“An Evening With Bob Schieffer” will take place at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 6, at the Strand Theatre. Tickets are $25 for museum members, $35 for the public. For information, call 354-0858.