MEDIA
12/31/2009 11:33 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Tim Russert's Father "Big Russ" Dies At 85

Timothy Joseph Russert, the father of the late Tim Russert affectionately known as "Big Russ," has died at the age of 85, his family announced Thursday evening.

Russert Sr. was the subject of his son's 2004 book, "Big Russ & Me: Father and Son--Lessons of Life."

The Russert family released the following statement about Big Russ' death:

It is with great sadness that we announce the death of Timothy Joseph Russert. While he was affectionately known to the world as "Big Russ," he carried no more important nor meaningful titles than those of father, grandfather, great-grandfather, patriot and friend. He passed peacefully with his family at his side from natural causes at the age of 85.

We warmly thank all those who were inspired by his life and his lessons.

In lieu of flowers please send donations to the Alzheimer's Association so that the world may move closer to finding a cure for this sad affliction.

We ask for privacy as funeral arrangements are pending.

Shortly before Tim Russert died in June 2008, Terry McAuliffe made an awkward reference to Big Russ' death on "Meet the Press," telling Russert that his father was "watching from heaven."

"Big Russ is in the Barcalounger still watching this," he replied. "God bless him."

Watch this video feature on Tim Russert & Big Russ from "NBC Nightly News" in 2007: