Friday, July 03, 2020

Remembering Hugh and Ruth Downs - Fellow Travelers to Earth's North Pole, 1998

From left to right, Hugh Downs, Ruth Downs, Herbergers, and Buzz Aldrin.

You may have heard that Hugh Downs, longtime TV personality at NBC and ABC, passed away on July 1, 2020. His obituary was published by the New York Times on July 2. I was fortunate to travel with Hugh Downs, his wife Ruth, and their friend and colleague Buzz Aldrin to the North Pole in July, 1998. He was filming a segment of the ABC program "20/20." Mr. Downs had previously filmed a 20/20 segment at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica and wanted to round out his "far-ends-of-the-earth" résumé by filming a segment at the opposite end of the earth.

In a previous blog posting celebrating the Centennial of statehood in Arizona, I included a picture taken with the Downs' and Buzz Aldrin at the North Pole. The link to that posting can be found here. We were traveling by nuclear-powered ice breaker on the Sovietsky Soyuz through Arctic ice on a 14-day expedition. I was working onboard as a geologic lecturer for TCS World Travel on the trip. 

Ruth (Shaheen) Downs passed away in 2017 and her obituary can be read here. She was a very gracious person on our voyage and Hugh credited her with much of his success. Ruth was quite successful in her own right and I want to remember her passing as well, since she likely escaped much of the limelight when she passed in 2017. They were together for 75 years!

On our voyage, I found Hugh Downs to be an excellent listener, curious, and gracious to all of the passengers on the trip. The well-known Herberger family of Phoenix were also along and our group formed a sort of Arizona contingent on the trip.

I tried to find a link to the 20/20 segment that was filmed at the North Pole, with no luck. If any readers have such luck - send me the link and I will include it here.

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