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July 23rd, 2009
03:44 PM ET

Walter Cronkite, a no-nonsense newshound

Walter Cronkite's funeral was held today at St. Bartholomew's Church in Manhattan.

Walter Cronkite's funeral was held today at St. Bartholomew's Church in Manhattan.

Tom Brokaw
For TIME

Walter Cronkite was the most famous journalist of his time, the personification of success in his beloved profession, with all that brought with it: a journalism school named for him, a Presidential Medal of Freedom and the adulation of his peers and audience.

Yet I always had the feeling that if late in life someone had tapped him on the shoulder and said, "Walter, we're a little shorthanded this week. Think you could help us on the police beat for a few mornings?" he would have responded, "Boy, oh, boy — when and where do you want me?"

Cronkite loved the news business, plain not fancy. He began as a teenage stringer for Houston newspapers and then made his way into radio before being hired by the United Press, the spunky cousin of the Associated Press. During World War II, Walter was UP's man in London, a colleague of the legendary Homer Bigart of the New York Herald Tribune, later of the New York Times; Andy Rooney, then with Stars and Stripes; and Ed Murrow, the incomparable voice of CBS News. Murrow was stunned when Cronkite turned down an offer to become one of Murrow's Boys, as the CBS all-star lineup was called. Cronkite preferred the all-news-all-the-time sensibilities of UP.

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soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Amy on the Missouri side of Kansas City!

    Loved Cronkite & love you too, Brokaw! Thanks for bringing attention so eloquently to our much deserved 'Greatest Generation'. My dad was born and raised in Webster, SD. He lost an older brother before being drafted himself during WWII. I miss more of those wonderful folks every day. Just want you to know that you're one of my favorite 'living' legend's from South Dakota now, I've really admired your work for years.

    July 23, 2009 at 5:12 pm |
  2. Annie Kate

    I can remember watching Walter Cronkite growing up. When JFK was killed and Walter announced it even though your brain was screaming "Not in America" you knew it was true because Cronkite had told you it was so. He explained the space race to us; his "wows" were an echo of ours and his enthusiasm helped increase our own. I have missed him since he retired; I'm sad that he is gone now but I'm sure in the hereafter he is reporting the news there and telling them "that's the way it is". We were fortunate to have had him grace our airwaves for 20 years.

    July 23, 2009 at 4:20 pm |