Legendary CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite passed away in New York Friday Night at the age of 92. He was surrounded by his family in his New York home when he died of cerebrovascular disease. Conflicting reports of Cronkite’s health had emerged from various sources in June causing the family to release a statement that he had been suffering with the disease for some years. The statement also said he was not expected to recuperate.
Walter Cronkite was the face of CBS news for 19 years (1962 to 1981) during one of our country’s most volatile periods. In a 1972 poll, he was determined to be “the most trusted man in America”.
Cronkite was born in St. Joseph, Missouri in 1916 and his family moved to Texas when he was still young. It was an article in “Boys Life” magazine about reporters working around the world which lured the young man into his career starting with the school paper and yearbook. He entered the University of Texas in Austin in 1933 to study political science, economics and journalism but would never graduate. Instead he began his career with a part-time job at the Houston Post. During his years at the United Press, Cronkite married the woman who would be his wife for six decades – Mary Elizabeth Maxwell or “Betsy” who passed away in 2005. Edward R. Murrow offered Cronkite a job which he initially turned down. He accepted the second offer in 1950 crossing into the new medium of television which, at a time when radio and print were for “real reporters” and television was for actors. Cronkite was named anchor of CBS Evening News in 1961 when it was still a 15-minute summary. Expectations were not high, but when the program was expanded another 15 minutes in 1963, the program had more depth and variety. He retired in 1981 at the age of 65 leaving the seat to Dan Rather. Cronkite signed off each broadcast with the catch phrase, “That’s the way it is…”
Cronkite last visited Pittsburgh in 2002 as a featured speaker in the Robert Morris Speakers Series. This editor was honored to have been an audience member that evening.
Goodnight Uncle Walter.