(CNN) -- CNN colleagues have been paying tribute to the network's former Jerusalem correspondent Jerrold Kessel, who died Thursday at age 65 after a long battle with cancer.
Kessel was a tireless reporter in a troubled part of the world.
"Jerrold worked for CNN for 13 years from 1990 to 2003 during some of the most spectacular highs and lows of the Middle East and was one of the network's regular reporting faces from the region," said Jerusalem Bureau Chief Kevin Flower.
"He was a passionate journalist and a guiding force for many he worked with."
Kessel was born in South Africa and moved to Israel as a young man. He was a widely published print reporter who worked for the Jerusalem Post and Israel Radio before joining CNN as a field producer, then correspondent and deputy bureau chief.
He led CNN's viewers through events ranging from the Oslo accords between Israel and the Palestinians, to the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin, Israeli elections and the intifada.
A portly man with a fuzzy white beard, Kessel's gentle appearance and warm friendly manner gave no hint of his inner intensity. He was known to colleagues for his seven-day-a-week commitment to the story, his voluble personality and his insider's knowledge of Middle East events.
"Jerrold was an expert on the Israeli-Palestinian story, and managed to explain the complicated politics of the Mideast on our air for so many years," said Parisa Khosravi, CNN's Senior Vice President of international newsgathering.
CNN Anchor Jim Clancy, a former Beirut correspondent well-traveled through the region in his own right, said he also benefited from Kessel's experience. "Jerrold always went out of his way to help others understand the context of the story and shared his knowledge and his sources unselfishly."
Kessel's encyclopedic knowledge of the region made him a favorite of CNN producers when news broke. As the network scrambled to figure out the story, Kessel could vamp on air as long as needed.
"If the producer said in his ear, 'keep going' there would be a hint of a smile, and he would keep right on going," said CNN Senior Editorial Director Richard Griffiths.
Even faithful viewers would probably be surprised to learn that Kessel was devoted to cricket, his vegetarian diet and more profoundly, to his family. He is survived by his wife, son and four grandchildren.