ABC's Peter Jennings dies at 67
Published August 8, 2005
NEW YORK - Peter Jennings, the suave, Canadian-born broadcaster who delivered the news to Americans each night in five separate decades, died Sunday (Aug. 7, 2005). He was 67.
Mr. Jennings, who announced in April that he had lung cancer, died at his New York home, ABC News President David Westin said late Sunday.
"Peter has been our colleague, our friend, and our leader in so many ways. None of us will be the same without him," Westin said.
With Tom Brokaw and Dan Rather, Mr. Jennings was part of a triumvirate that dominated network news for more than two decades, through the birth of cable news and the Internet. His smooth delivery and years of international reporting experience made Mr. Jennings particularly popular among urban dwellers.
Mr. Jennings was the face of ABC News whenever a big story broke. He logged more than 60 hours on the air during the week of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, offering a soothing sense of continuity during a troubled time.
"There are a lot of people who think our job is to reassure the public every night that their home, their community and their nation is safe," he told author Jeff Alan. "I don't subscribe to that at all. I subscribe to leaving people with essentially - sorry it's a cliche - a rough draft of history. Some days it's reassuring, some days it's absolutely destructive."
Mr. Jennings' announcement four months ago that he would begin treatment for lung cancer came as a shock.
"I will continue to do the broadcast," he said, his voice husky, in a taped message that night. "On good days, my voice will not always be like this."
But although Mr. Jennings occasionally came to the office between chemotherapy treatments, he never again appeared on the air.
"He knew that it was an uphill struggle. But he faced it with realism, courage, and a firm hope that he would be one of the fortunate ones," Westin said. "In the end, he was not."
Broadcasting was the family business for Mr. Jennings. His father, Charles Jennings, was the first person to anchor a nightly national news program in Canada and later became head of the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.'s news division. A picture of his father was displayed prominently in Mr. Jennings' office off ABC's newsroom.
Charles Jennings' son had a Saturday morning radio show in Ottawa at age 9.
Mr. Jennings never completed high school or college, and began his career as a news reporter at a radio station in Brockton, Ontario.
Like Rather and Brokaw, Mr. Jennings wasn't entirely comfortable stuck to a studio. He traveled around the world to cover stories and, when he didn't journey to Asia to cover the tsunami less than four months before his cancer diagnosis, it was noticed.
He is survived by his wife, Kayce Freed, and his two children, Elizabeth, 25, and Christopher, 23.
[Last modified August 8, 2005, 02:45:22]
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