A tribute to Michael Rubenstein - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

A tribute to Michael Rubenstein

Posted: Updated:
JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

The sun broke through the clouds Sunday afternoon when hundreds made the trek to the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame to say final farewells to sports broadcast legend Michael Rubenstein.

The charismatic Mississippi figure dedicated years to preserving the state's sports history and changing the way stories were told about its athletes.

Jill Conner Browne asked the standing room only crowd to get to their feet and cheer for their long time friend John Michael Rubenstein.

It was a fitting tribute for the man known to most as Rube, a sign of respect he would not command.

Three days after his death, friends, family, co-workers, sports figures, acquaintances and fans remembered the life of the Mississippi sport journalist.

The 60 year old's smiling face greeted all who entered the house that Rube built, the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.

Hundreds wanted to be a part of the memorial.

Malcolm White met Rube in their hometown of Booneville in 1965.

"He was not only the only Jew I knew, but he was the only person I knew who believed in racial equality and he helped me understand that as a kid growing up in Mississippi because his family had been discriminated against," said White.

That life's views gained him thousands of admirers while working 16 years as sports anchor and director at WLBT.

Coaches with the Southwestern Athletic Conference said he changed the way black athletics was covered.

Former Alcorn State University Coach Dave Whitney called him a friend and who often visited his home and loved his wife's cooking.

"Jackson State sent 100 plus football players to the NFL and the State of Mississippi has produced the highest number of athletes in the NFL per capita and I think it was because of the charisma of Michael Rubenstein," said former Jackson State University Head Coach W.C. Gorden.

Friends and professional adversaries praised his dogged determination to get a story.

Clarion Ledger sports reporter Rick Cleveland reflected on the trips they took covering games and his great respect for a man who for many years he considered his competition.

"He broke stories and told them well. He was such a fine writer crisp, eloquent and witty," said Cleveland.

Those gathered at the memorial held at his beloved sport hall of fame tearfully recall the good times.

"He's spent Christmas morning at my house with my family every year. So it will be a hard Christmas this year. He saw me through the deaths of both of my parents, and I saw him through the death of his mother," said friend of more than four decades Jill Conner Browne.

Former WLBT General Manager Bill Dilday hired Rubenstein in 1974.

"So I called him in. He wasn't the handsomest in the world but he's smart, intelligent, articulate, and he was a Virgo. So I knew he had to be great. So I put him on the air and the rest is history," said Dilday.

It was a legacy admired by a host of friends.

Coach Gorden requested that the board have induct its Executive Director, Michael Rubenstein, into the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame and Museum.

He is survived by his brother Ted Rubenstein of Atlanta and long time companion Kathryn Dollarhide.

Celebrations of Rubenstein's life continued after the memorial at Hal and Mal's.

Copyright 2011 WLBT. All rights reserved.

Powered by WorldNow