For all of you who have been asking me over the past two months, Chris Marrou LOVES retirement. After 40 years of being in the spotlight both figuratively and literally, Chris is relishing being out of it.
We did get him back in front of a television camera with a microphone, but this was decidedly not for broadcast. This past weekend, 100 current and former KENS 5 employees gathered to raise a toast and poke a little fun at Chris on the occasion of his retirement.
"What are you doing?" we asked him. "Absolutely nothing!" he laughed. Looking at him, you knew he was enjoying it. He and wife Kathy looked relaxed and very happy.
KENS 5 gave him a lovely send-off with a half-hour special following his final broadcast in November.
Something that might surprise you about Chris is that he is actually shy. He didn't want a big fuss made over his leaving and on his final day said, "I wish I could just get in my pick-up truck and take off." (Yes, he really does drive a pick-up.)
But he was truly honored with the tribute here, and we couldn't let him leave without some fanfare.
But Saturday night was a time to be a bit more irreverent, and we all were. People who had worked at KENS during the 1980s and 1990s flew in from across the country.
Longtime KENS viewers fondly remember Kelly Chapman, and she was there looking radiant. Bob Rogers was news director at KENS 5 for 29 years, during which time KENS 5 news had the highest ratings of any television newscast in the country for several years running.
He and then General Manager Bill Moll shared the story of hiring Chris in 1973. Chris came in for his audition and read through a newscast.
"Let's not let him know how good he really is," said Moll to Rogers. They hired him on the spot.
We couldn't recall the great times with Chris without reminiscing about Dan Cook as well. Chris told of one night in the 1980s when Dan showed up for the 10 p.m. news after spending the evening at the sports bar he owned called "Dan Cook's Time Out."
Dan had had several too many. He slurred through the sportscast, and the next day the general manager wanted to make sure it never happened again. He pulled the tape and called Dan to his office to watch his performance.
Dan watched silently and then stood up. "I'm glad you showed me that," he said. "It wasn't nearly as bad as I imagined it."
A former producer remembered one night when he and Chris were discussing the 254 counties in Texas.
"I bet I could memorize all 254 alphabetically by the end of the 10 p.m. news," Chris said. The bet was a piece of pie. After the newscast Chris rattled off all 254…and the payoff followed.
That wasn't a surprise to any of us who watched him recently study for his law degree between newscasts.
Chris has the most amazing mind, and while he says he is doing absolutely nothing, he is in fact now getting his Master's degree at UT-Austin.
He won't stay idle long. At the age of 62, he's ready for his second act. When he decides what that will be, we'll let you know.