While working at far-flung media markets across the country, broadcast journalist Steven Lattimore would stay in touch over the phone with his young son Jeffrey Wright in Chicago.
Many of those conversations ended in a common refrain, with Lattimore quoting the movie “Glengarry Glen Ross” — “Always be closing.”
“That sums up the kind of guy he was. Always pushing himself to do more,” Wright said.
Lattimore died Dec. 20 after collapsing in his Lansing home at age 55.
The veteran broadcaster reported for CBS 2-Chicago from 2000 to 2003, a capstone in his career that he likened to “playing for the Bulls,” Wright said.
The South Side native graduated from Leo High School and Columbia College Chicago before embarking on a TV news career starting in Tupelo, Mississippi.
When he got a call about a reporting job in Alaska, he took the next Greyhound bus up there, according to his son.
“When he got an opportunity, he ran with it,” Wright said.
With his family back in Chicago, Lattimore continued with jobs in Toledo, St. Louis, Norfolk, Milwaukee and finally CBS 2-Chicago, where he joined an experimental nightly newscast set-up that was more focused on in-depth stories than daily crime and fire stories.
Longtime Chicago journalist Carol Marin anchored the program, with a team of reporters that also included current CNN White House correspondent Jim Acosta.
“Steve was young and hungry, and trying to make a mark in Chicago. He was terrific,” Marin said.
Lattimore’s dream was to one day report for “60 Minutes,” so he especially liked the longer-form style of the CBS 2 newscast, Wright said.
“He just had a huge heart,” Marin said. “You didn’t get a sense of some swaggering ego, or some ‘Take me to New York and make me famous’ kind of approach. He wanted to be a great reporter and a great storyteller.”
Over the last decade, Lattimore taught broadcast journalism and editing at his alma mater, Columbia College.
He was notoriously tough on his students, Wright said, but “he loved finding students who had the fire in the belly and the fortitude to go through the process of becoming a real journalist.
“When he would meet a kid that would make that kind of sacrifices that he himself made, he would get so fired up. And he would help them in and out of the classroom,” Wright said.
Lattimore also worked on documentaries on Chicago blues musicians, including Jimmy Reed and Koko Taylor, and he traveled to Kenya to produce a documentary on HIV and AIDS.
“He was passionate about telling stories that wouldn’t be heard unless he told them,” Wright said.
In addition to his son Jeffrey Wright, Lattimore is survived by his wife Robin Tatum-Lattimore, daughter Maya Tatum-Lattimore, son Aaron Wright, three siblings and a large extended family.
A funeral service is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Saturday at St. Thomas the Apostle Church, 5472 S. Kimbark Ave.