Friends, peers fete ABC anchor
NEW YORK — Thousands of friends, colleagues and admirers honored the late Peter Jennings at a public memorial at Carnegie Hall in a service fed to ABC News bureaus around the world.
Jennings, who died Aug. 7 of lung cancer, was remembered for his life’s work and for the inspiration he remains to ABC News employees, many of whom donned bracelets with the mantra: “What would Peter do?”
Walter Cronkite, Ted Koppel, Alan Alda, Bob Iger and Wynton Marsalis were among the luminaries who offered testimonials both emotional and lighthearted.
Disney CEO-elect Bob Iger recalled his last lunch with Jennings in March, a month before his diagnosis.
“We had a good laugh about the fact that so many people in news use the word ‘management’ as an expletive and at ABC News there is no bigger slur than the word ‘Burbank,’ ” he said. “So I guess it’s only fitting that I’m here representing management and Burbank.”
Iger added that ABC and the Walt Disney Co. owe Jennings “an enormous debt of gratitude.”
“Peter was self-conscious about his good looks and his lack of education,” Koppel said. “He spent his adult life soaking up knowledge.”
Many of the speakers noted that as much as Jennings enjoyed gaining knowledge, he also enjoyed sharing it.
Alda recalled how Jennings had urged him to start carrying a copy of the U.S. Constitution, a practice he had adopted at some point in his career. Co-author of “The Century” Tom Brewster recalled when Jennings became a U.S. citizen and started referring to Americans as “we.”
Much was made of Jennings’ urbane personality, but son Christopher Jennings, 23, said that description ignores his father’s curiosity and enthusiasm for ideas.