Longtime ABC News anchor Peter Jennings died tonight at the age of 67 from complications of lung cancer.
ABC’s Charles Gibson, who has been filling in for Jennings on World News Tonight since Jennings made news of his disease public, broke into programming at 11:42 p.m. to announce Jennings’ passing.
In a statement to his colleagues at the network, ABC News president David Westin wrote:
“For four decades, Peter has been our colleague, our friend, and our leader in so many ways. None of us will be the same without him.
“As you all know, Peter learned only this spring that the health problem he’d been struggling with was lung cancer. With Kayce, he moved straight into an aggressive chemotherapy treatment. 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. In the end, he was not.
“We will have many opportunities in the coming hours and days to remember Peter for all that he meant to us all. It cannot be overstated or captured in words alone. 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.”
“It’s a very sad moment for him, for his family, for all of us,” said broadcast colleague Jeff Greenfield on CNN. “Peter represents the kind of journalism that people ought to be aspiring to.”
“I don’t know anyone who could command an audience with the authority that Peter had,” said ABC journalist Barbara Walters. “He was just a superb writer.”
The obituary posted on ABC’s website notes Jennings has reported on major historical events since the days of black-and-white broadcasting:
He was in Berlin in the 1960s when the Berlin Wall was going up, and there in the ’90s when it came down. He covered the civil-rights movement in the southern United States during the 1960s, and the struggle for equality in South Africa during the 1970s and ’80s. He was there when the Voting Rights Act was signed in 1965, and on the other side of the world when South Africans voted for the first time. He has worked in every European nation that once was behind the Iron Curtain. He was there when the independent political movement Solidarity was born in a Polish shipyard, and again when Poland’s communist leaders were forced from power. And he was in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Romania and throughout the Soviet Union to record first the repression of communism and then its demise. He was one of the first reporters to go to Vietnam in the 1960s, and went back to the killing fields of Cambodia in the 1980s to remind Americans that, unless they did something, the terror would return.
The Canadian-born Jennings became an American citizen in 2003, and had been married four times.
He is survived by his wife Kayce Freed, his two children, Elizabeth, 25, and Christopher, 23, and his sister Sarah Jennings.