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Peter Jennings dies of lung cancer

Longtime ABC News anchor was 67



• August 3, 1964, joins ABC News
• 1965-1968, Anchors "ABC Evening News"
• 1968-1974, Beirut, Lebanon bureau chief, establishing first American television news bureau in Arab world
• 1975-1976, Anchors "A.M. America," predecessor to "Good Morning America"
• 1977, Chief foreign correspondent
• 1978-1983, Chief foreign correspondent for ABC News and foreign desk anchor for "World News Tonight"
• 1983-2005, Anchor/senior editor for "World News Tonight"

• "The Century" (with Todd Brewster)
• "In Search of America"

Sixteen Emmys; two George Foster Peabody Awards; several Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards; several Overseas Press Club Awards.


Peter Jennings

NEW YORK (CNN) -- Veteran newsman Peter Jennings was remembered Monday as an outstanding journalist, a hard worker and "a man of conscience and integrity."

The longtime anchor of ABC "World News Tonight" died Sunday, some four months after he announced on the air that he had been diagnosed with lung cancer.

Jennings was 67.

"Good Morning America" co-host Charles Gibson announced late Sunday that Jennings had died in his New York City apartment. His wife, Kayce, his children Elizabeth and Christopher, and his sister were at his side, Gibson said.

He read a statement from the family that said: "Peter died with his family around him, without pain and in peace. He knew he had lived a good life."

ABC News President David Westin told reporters Monday that it was a sad day at the network where Jennings had worked for more than 40 years.

"Peter, in addition to being an outstanding journalist, an outstanding leader, was also a very warm and decent man and a great friend and colleague to so many of us," Westin said. "We all got to see how professional he was on the air, and sometimes his urbanity could be mistaken for a certain distance. But in fact he was a very sensitive, warm, decent man who cared passionately for what he did, for what all of us do -- for reporting the news every day of the year."

In a written statement to his staff, Westin wrote on Sunday that "we will have many opportunities in the coming hours and days to remember Peter for all that he meant to us all. ... But for the moment, the finest tribute we can give is to continue to do the work he loved so much and inspired us to do."

Anchor Barbara Walters described Jennings as a stickler for details, adding that "if I knew the name of the person in the parade, he knew the name of the horse."

"He pushed himself, he pushed us, he made us better. One of the things that I think was very interesting about Peter is that he didn't graduate from high school, and this gave him a kind of insecurity that made him want to work harder, and learn more," Walters said. "He wrote like a dream. You would think that he was reading a script, and it was all ad-lib. He was an anchor in every true sense of the word."

President Bush remembered Jennings as a distinguished journalist.

"A lot of Americans relied upon Peter Jennings for their news. He became a part of the life of a lot of our fellow citizens, and he will be missed," Bush said as he prepared to board Air Force One. "May God bless his soul."

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement that she was saddened by the death of her "close, personal friend."

"Peter Jennings represented all that was best in journalism and public service. A man of conscience and integrity, his reporting was a guide to all of us who aspire to better the world around us. I learned from him and was inspired by him," she wrote.

Determined fight

Since April 5, when Jennings announced his diagnosis on the news program, he kept his public comments positive. Even during the initial announcement, he said he would be undergoing chemotherapy and joked about losing his hair.

"I wonder if other men and women ask their doctors right away, 'OK, doc, when does the hair go?' " he said.

Jennings said he was determined to fight the disease, citing National Cancer Institute statistics that nearly 10 million Americans are living with cancer. "I have a lot to learn from them, and 'living' is the key word," he said.

The network's "World News Tonight" Web site has maintained an online forum where viewers could post expressions of support and good wishes for Jennings. It has also posted statements from Jennings thanking viewers for their support and his thoughts on topics such as the recent terrorist bombings in London.

In an April 29 letter posted on the site, Jennings said he had been "spoiled rotten" by well-wishers and added, "I assume there are a few others out there who, like me, are going with the flow until the day gets better."

His last posting came on July 29, Jennings' birthday. "Many thanks to all of you for your birthday wishes," the statement from Jennings said. "Your words -- as always -- are a great source of strength. I am celebrating today with my family -- we are all grateful."

Network anchor at age 26

Jennings was born in Toronto, Canada, in 1938. His father, Charles, was the first voice of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation when it was established in the mid-1930s. At age 9, Jennings hosted "Peter's Program," a short-lived Saturday morning children's show on the CBC.

A high school dropout, Jennings worked as a bank teller for several years before moving into radio and then into television in 1961. He was hired by ABC in 1964.

The following year, when he was 26, Jennings was picked to anchor "The ABC Evening News." But two years later, he told his bosses he needed more seasoning and returned to field reporting, CNN correspondent Jeff Greenfield, a former ABC News employee, has said.

Jennings became a foreign correspondent for the network, covering such stories as the 1972 Summer Olympic Games in Munich, Germany, when members of the Arab terrorist group Black September seized the Israeli compound and took athletes hostage and later killed them.

Since he began anchoring the program in 1983, Jennings has won numerous awards, including a National Headliner Award, a George Foster Peabody Award and several Overseas Press Club Awards. He also won some 16 Emmys, according to the ABC News Web site.

Asked how it felt after anchoring ABC's evening news program for 20 years, Jennings told CNN's Larry King on September 8, 2003: "Seems like yesterday; seems like forever -- all at the same time."

"It's sort of, how do you measure it? Do you measure the fact that I'm 20 years older? No. I think I measure it by the events. You know, I came just as the Cold War was coming to an end."

"When you think about the events that we've been through, from the fall of the Berlin Wall to, I guess you'd say, 9/11 being the culmination at the end of that, of that scope, what extraordinary changes there have been."

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