Longtime journalist Geraldo Rivera visited Ponte Vedra Beach this past weekend when residents Janet and Dale Westling hosted the reporter, talk show host and author for a private signing of his new book, “The Geraldo Show: A Memoir.”
Held on Saturday, June 2 at the Westlings’ house in Sawgrass Country Club, the event allowed guests the opportunity to receive signed copies of the memoir, take photos with Rivera, enjoy a homecooked meal and engage with the journalist about his career and life. According to Janet Westling, 55 guests were invited, and 280 copies of the book were sold, eclipsing a goal of 250. The event was the first signing in a private home for Rivera, who stayed overnight at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa.
“People were surprised,” said Westling. “They came in with a preconceived notion of who Geraldo Rivera was, and they left amazed and in awe of what he had to say.”
During an hour-long discussion after the book signing, Rivera presented a retrospect of his near 50-year career, speaking about his early days and the turning points of his life. One such crossroads, Westling noted, was 9/11, which motivated Rivera to cover the wars in the Middle East and help in finding Osama bin Laden. In addition, the journalist discussed a defining moment from earlier in his career when he completed an expose on the Willowbrook State School in Staten Island. The institution for children with special needs featured deplorable conditions, inspiring Rivera to cover the story and ultimately start a foundation that established group homes for such kids.
“He’s led a life that has gone in so many different directions,” said Westling. “He seemed a man very content with what he’s done, what he’s accomplished and where he’s going.”
On June 3, a day after Rivera’s Ponte Vedra Beach visit, the journalist tweeted that his mother had passed away at her home in Siesta Key. She was just shy of her 99th birthday.