- The Washington Times - Friday, July 24, 2009

NEW YORK | Walter Cronkite was remembered as a great newsman, sailor, friend and father during Thursday’s funeral for the CBS anchor.

“I was often asked what he’s really like, and I would always answer: ‘He’s just the way you hope he is,’ ” said Mike Ashford, a longtime Cronkite friend.

Another speaker, longtime CBS newsman and “60 Minutes” commentator Andy Rooney, recalled meeting Mr. Cronkite when they were in England covering World War II.

“You get to know someone pretty well in a war,” Mr. Rooney said. “I just feel so terrible about Walter’s death that I can hardly say anything.”

The remarkably intimate, even homey ceremony was witnessed by a near-capacity crowd at the enormous St. Bartholomew’s Church in midtown Manhattan, where the Cronkite family has worshipped for years.

Leading broadcast journalists were on hand, including Connie Chung, Bob Schieffer, Diane Sawyer, Brian Williams, Dan Rather, Barbara Walters, Charles Gibson, Matt Lauer, Tom Brokaw, Morley Safer and Meredith Vieira.

For his reporting, Mr. Cronkite came to be called “the most trusted man in America” and was widely considered the premier TV journalist of his time. He anchored “The CBS Evening News” from 1962 until 1981.

Flowers arrived from Yoko Ono, who wrote: “Walter, my son Sean and I will always remember you! for your kind word to us. You will be missed. With love, Yoko Ono Lennon.”

During the service, St. Bartholomew’s Choir sang and a jazz band played “When the Saints Go Marching In.”

Sanford Socolow, a producer who worked with Mr. Cronkite, said: “Once he had this bizarre idea that he would ad-lib the newscast without a script.” As Mr. Cronkite’s cue to roll each film clip, he would gently brush his nose with his hand. “It was utter chaos. It lasted for two days.”

Chip Cronkite thanked his father for many things: “Thanks for rushing to the side of the boat when a boom knocked me overboard; you stood there ready to jump in after me and then were glad you didn’t have to. Thanks for getting ready to take out my appendix yourself with a sharpened spoon on the African plains two days’ drive for a hospital; that time, I was glad you didn’t have to.”

A separate memorial will be held later at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts. Mr. Cronkite is to be cremated and his remains buried next to his wife, Betsy, in the family plot in Kansas City, Mo.

Marcus Franklin contributed to this report.

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