Famous television anchorman Walter Cronkite died at 7:42 p.m. July 17 in his Manhattan, N.Y. home after a fight with cerebral vascular disease.
His funeral was held Thursday at St. Bartholomew’s Church, an Episcopal church in Manhattan.
Fellow broadcaster and friend Andy Rooney spoke during the funeral, but he wasn’t able to finish his speech because he was overcome with emotion.
It is a sad time in the journalism world. Cronkite was an icon of CBS and the broadcast news world.
Unlike much of the television news of today, Cronkite was straight and to the point.
He did huff and puff to boost his ratings. He just told things the way they were in his commanding baritone voice beneath his trim mustache.
Cronkite was the face of CBS News from 1962 to 1981, when he was forced to step down due to CBS’s mandatory retirement age restrictions.
He leaves behind an incredible legacy.
Many reports say he was the first person to ever be called an anchorman.
Cronkite became so synonymous with the term that, according to Associated Press reports, his name began to mean anchorman in other countries. Swedish anchors are known as Kronkiters and in Holland they are called Cronkiters.
He brought the world the news of the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. He reported on racial and anti-war riots, Watergate, the space race and the Iranian hostage crisis.
He rarely opined, but when he did, the world listened.
When President Lyndon B. Johnson was in office, Cronkite editorialized about the Tet Offensive and how he thought the Vietnam War could not be won.
Johnson took this to heart and said, “Well, if I’ve lost Cronkite, I’ve lost middle America.”
That’s because Cronkite represented the Midwest.
Born Nov. 4, 1916 in St. Joseph, Mo., Walter Leland Cronkite Jr. was the son of a dentist.
He lived in Kansas City for a time before moving to Houston when he was 10.
According to a CBS News story, he once read a “Boys Life” magazine article about reporters working around the world.
From then on, he was a journalist.
He didn’t even graduate from the University of Texas. He took a job reporting.
In 1937, he began working for United Press in Kansas City and worked his way up to be one of the top World War II correspondents.
While working for UP, Edward R. Murrow offered him a job. He turned it down.
He did eventually take the job in 1950 after being offered it a second time.
Cronkite anchored the CBS Evening News, which at that time was only a 15-minute show.
In 1963, though, it was turned into a 30-minute show, and he was named managing editor.
At the age of 65, he retired and Dan Rather took his place.
On March 6, 1981, he concluded his last broadcast with a memorable quote: “Old anchormen, you see, don’t fade away, they just keep coming back for more. And that’s the way it is.”
During his retirement, he spent a lot of time at his summer home in Martha’s Vineyard, sailing a boat named “The Betsy,” after his wife Mary “Betsy” Elizabeth Maxwell, whom he married in 1940, according to reports published following his death.
She died in 2005. They had three children – Nancy, Mary Kathleen and Walter Leland III.
During his career, Cronkite was so adored by the country that he was referred to as “Uncle Walter,” and he was named the “most trusted man in America” twice – in 1972 and 1974.
Now, according to a Time Magazine poll, Comedy Central’s Jon Stewart is the most trusted man in the business, garnering 44 percent of the votes. NBC’s Brian Williams took second with 29 percent, ABC’s Charlie Gibson took third with 19 percent and CBS’s Katie Couric came in last with 7 percent, which is ironic considering it is Cronkite’s voice that does the announcing that the start of her broadcasts.
There is even a journalism school named after Cronkite at Arizona State University.
Cronkite held a special place in my heart.
Though I’m not into television news, I respected him for his reporting ability, UP upbringing and Midwest roots.
I even named a fish after him.
On May 17, 2007, I wrote at www.voiceofthevogts.com about my new friend:
As of Wednesday, I am now the editor in chief of The Wichita State University Sunflower, which is the student newspaper serving WSU.
I spent the past couple of days cleaning the editor office and settling in some. Part of this adjustment period has involved the purchase of a childhood dream.
I am going to have fish in my new journalistic domicile.
Since I was very small, I have wanted pet fish. I realize this may seem a bit strange seeing as most toddlers want a puppy, a kitty, or even a pony. However, I am, and always have been, a bit lazy, so a fish seemed like the perfect fit because they are very low maintenance.
My parents tried to help me out when I was younger. They got me a gold fish and put it in a large jar on the entertainment center. Everything seemed to work well with the little swimmer at first. However, it was the winter season, and, since we utilize a wood-burning fireplace for our source of warmth, one day the little creature was floating with its belly reaching for the heavens.
It seems as though the house got a bit too warm and the fish boiled in its home.
Every since the loss of my first gilled friend, I have longed to again have a fish as a pet, but I realized such a pet would not survive because our house got too cozy during the winter.
Now, with a brand-new office to put my own personal touch on, I have the opportunity to finally care for fish.
I already have the tank filled with water, and the tank treatment is currently taking place as the water cycles through the filters a few times. By Monday, I will have fish swimming in my office.
Speaking of the fish, I already have them picked out. In fact, each on will have a name.
I intend upon purchasing one Koi. Its name will be Walter Cronkite. I will also be getting various breeds of Goldfish. Each one will also have one of four names, which include Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward, Stephen Glass, and Jayson Blair.
As you can see, all my fish will be named after notable journalists. After all, I am working for a news-media outlet.
Also, I plan on getting a Plecostomus, which is a fish that helps keep tanks clean by eating algae growth. This fish will also be named after a journalist with whom all employees at The Sunflower are well acquainted.
Besides my getting of the office and fish, other big changes will also be taking place with the paper.
The first summer edition, which will be printed every Wednesday, comes out on June 6, and it will be in a broadsheet format, which basically means it will sized more to look like The McPherson Sentinel or The New York Times or any other professional newspaper people would be familiar with.
It’s going to be an exciting year as editor in chief, and I’m really looking forward to all it has to offer.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to pick out what plants I’m going to put in my new fish tank.”
Things didn’t work out quite as I had planned though, as I noted on May 21, 2007:
“Well, I have some bad news about my fish.
I went to purchase them today, and the lady working advised me not to buy all six right away. She said putting that many fish in a new tank all at once would surely lead to the death of them all.
So I bought only one. It is a type of Goldfish called a Shubunkin, and his name is Walter Cronkite.
Now I know I said I was going to name the Koi Walter, but the lady at the pet store said one Koi was too big for my tank. Therefore, Walter is now a Shubunkin.
In about a week, I will add more fish, so I guess everything is okay.
But I was pretty excited about getting all of my fish today . . . ”
However, I wasn’t able to keep the fish alive very long.
On Aug. 7, 2007, I reported the unfortunate news:
“At approximately 8 a.m. today, Walter Cronkite was found dead in his bowl.
He was nearly 3 months old and a Shubunkin Goldfish.
An exact cause of death could not be determined due to the lack of an autopsy, but prior to his death, he was showing signs of the ICK/ICH, which is a disease experienced by fish.
Interment for Walter took place at approximately 9:30 a.m. today by flushing him down the toilet in the handicap stall in the basement of Elliott Hall located at Wichita State University.
Walter was an avid swimmer who greatly enjoyed his goldfish flakes. His favorite pastime was starring at himself in the reflection of his 10-gallon fish tank.
He leaves behind numerous family members and three close friends that were his roommates in the tank — R. Rubi Plecostomus, Stephen G. Snail, and Scorpio the Scorpion.
“He was a great friend and will be dearly missed in the tank,” R. Rubi said. “Walter made the lives of everyone he met better, and I am eternally grateful for the opportunity to know his so very well.”
“He swam fast,” Stephen G. said. “I hope to move that fast one day, too. He was an inspiration.”
Memorial donations may be made to Todd Vogts.”
I looked up to Cronkite, and that is why I wanted him in my office with me as I took the reigns of The Sunflower.
If I had to choose the three journalists that have been most influential to my career, they would be The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward, The Emporia Gazette’s William Allen White and Cronkite.
And that’s the way it is, Uncle Walter. That’s the way it is.