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July 23, 2009

Cronkite: from acolyte to anchor

Walter Cronkite’s death didn’t have the tragedy and drama that surrounded, say, Michael Jackson’s death. But even though Cronkite was 92, news of his death landed like a thump on the hearts of those of us who had major life events delivered to us via that voice.

The silencing of that voice—matched with his old-fashioned, hard-working journalism skill and sensibilities—is a huge loss.

A Religion News Service blog this week said the famous anchor was anchored by his faith: The man who pioneered broadcast news once pondered the Episcopal priesthood while working as a newspaper church editor, he said in an 1994 article in The Christian Century. “For a short while, I thought about entering the ministry,” said Cronkite. “But that was a short while. Journalism prevailed.”

Cronkite started out Lutheran (in Kansas City), until his family turned Presbyterian. Later, his father helped start a Unitarian Church in Houston. “I attended that for a couple years until I got into a Boy Scout troop that met in an Episcopal church,” he said. “The church had a wonderful minister who was also the scoutmaster. ... I was much involved with the church, and became an Episcopalian—and an acolyte.”

Of course there’s sadness in every death, even the famous who we really didn’t know. Of this recent parade of passings, I think I’ll miss Uncle Walter the most.

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