There was a pause this week among many of us across the country as the news of the death of Peter Jennings came.
That the very attractive, famous and talented are mortal was brought home to us. His death came as unexpected news even though we knew since early April that he had lung cancer.
I knew Peter Jennings. Not well, but well enough to say hello and chat.
We shared a couple of things in common. One was that he announced what turned out to be his own fatal disease -- lung cancer -- just three weeks after I was successfully operated on for the same condition.
We also shared the same birthday -- same month and day, but not year -- and this became the starting point for every conversation we had. "Hi, birthday boy," he would say.
He was a high school dropout and never hid that, although he was urbane, suave and one of the most knowledgeable men I have ever know. Peter was the superlative embodiment of the autodidact.
To be in his company, as I was one night in Beirut years ago, was an experience. He knew so much and he shared his knowledge in a quiet, understated way with that pleasantly soft voice of his in that wonderful smoothed out accent.
There were encounters at the White House Correspondents Dinner, the Gridiron Dinner and sometimes an unexpected encounter. They were always pleasant. It was always "Hi, birthday boy."
I first knew him many years ago when he used to visit Baltimore. He was a roving and Washington correspondent then, when we did not know he would go on to worldwide fame as one of the Big Three anchors. Now that era has gone, ended by Peter.
He had qualities that because of the considerations of privacy will not be gone into here.
Peter was a wonderful guy.
We shall not see his like again.
Return to Home Page
Return to Current Edition