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November 10, 2021

Walter Cronkite Found New Love at 88 after His Wife of 64 Years Died but Left Her Nothing

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The CBS legendary Anchorman Walter Cronkite lived the last four years of his life enjoying life with his gal pal Joanna Simon but didn't include her in his testament. 

The news anchor and one of the most important names in American journalism Walter Cronkite passed away at 92. He spent the last four years of his life with the opera singer Joanna Simon.

The couple enjoyed their time together,  summering in Martha's Vineyard and yachting off the East Coast. But Cronkite didn't leave Simon a cent when he died. 

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THE MAN BEHIND THE NEWS

During the 1960s and 1970s, the journalist was dubbed as the most trusted man in America. He was the anchor of the CBS Evening News for nearly two decades. 

Throughout this time, he reported many events from 1937 to 1981, including important events such as World War II, the Vietnam War, the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and John Lennon, and many more.

Walter Cronkite became something of a national institution and made his name known for his departing catchphrase, "and that's the way it is."

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He became a star: the first journalist celebrity to be recognized 14 years after his retirement. People rushed to see him instead of the politicians he was covering, and people loved him. In a 1979 book about news media, the author shared:

“The viewers could more readily picture Walter Cronkite jumping into a car to cover a 10-alarm fire than they could visualize him doing cerebral commentary on a great summit meeting in Geneva.”

THE MOST TRUSTED MAN IN AMERICA

Walter Leland Cronkite Jr. was born on Nov. 4, 1916. Walter peddled magazines door to door and hawked newspapers while growing up in New York as a young boy. When his family moved to Houston, he got a job as a copy boy and cub reporter at The Houston Post.

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Cronkite studied political science, economics, and journalism, at the University of Texas. He soon picked journalism jobs at The Houston Press and other newspapers. When he graduated, he started working as a reporter with The Press. 

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The journalist entered broadcasting as a radio announcer for WKY in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, and in 1936, he met his first wife, Betsy Maxwell, an advertising writer. The duo met when Cronkite was working as the sports announcer for KCMO  in Kansas City.

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The couple stayed together for 64 years until she died in 2005. Nancy, the couples' daughter, reported to the New York Post that Cronkite never got over his beloved wife's death:

“I don’t think Dad ever really recovered. His health was certainly exacerbated by this terrible, terrible blow.”

Maxwell and Cronkite had three children, Walter Leland III, known as Chip, Nancy Elizabeth, and Mary Kathleen. His personal life was doing well, but professionally not so much. The journalist got fired from KCMO but eventually got a job at United Press International.

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He slowly established a name, and as he joined the team of war correspondents at CBS, he became one of the first reporters accredited to American forces with the outbreak of World War II.

In 1943, Cronkite and eight other journalists were selected for an Army Air Forces program. They flew to Germany for a bombing mission, and the news anchor operated a machine gun until he was, as he wrote in his memoir, "up to my hips in spent .50-caliber shells."

After covering the Nuremberg war crimes trials, Cronkite lived in Moscow from 1946 to 1948 to report from there. He left print journalism once again to become the Washington correspondent for several radio stations in the Midwestern. In 1950, CBS recruited him. 

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In 1954, CBS challenged NBC's popular morning program "Today" with "Morning Show," a short-lived program hosted by Cronkite. Eight years later, the first presidential year overcame radio coverage, and the journalist was chosen to cover the elections that year. 

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In 1962, he took over the anchoring of CBS's evening news and became the nightly presence in the American homes. Walter Cronkite served as a managing editor, broadcasting journalist, and anchor until he retired in 1981. 

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DEVASTED WITH THE LOSS OF HIS WIFE

Betsy Maxwell became Besty Cronkite when she married the legendary CBS News anchorman. In his memoir, Cronkite credits his wife the success of their happy and long-lasting union:

“I attribute the longevity of our marriage to Betsy’s extraordinary keen sense of humor, which saw us over many bumps (mostly of my making), and her tolerance.”

Betsy passed away at age 89 in 2005. While mourning the loss of his beloved wife, Cronkite met Joanna Simon, who had also lost her husband. They started dating and stayed together for four years until he died in 2009. 

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CRONKITE LEAVES NOTHING TO SIMON

After Walter Cronkite's death, Joanna Simon told The Post that "he was the love of my life" and "the most remarkable man who ever lived."

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Simon was also a real state agent, and the duo met when she sold him and his wife an apartment in her United Nations Plaza building. Joanna Simon revealed that Cronkite gave her "so much joy."

However, the most trusted man in America didn't include the former opera singer in his will regarding his first wife's memory. Nancy Cronkite concluded that her father didn't intend to share his state with the opera singer and wrote his will before they met. 

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Along with Cronkite's children, Marlene Adler, his chief of staff at CBS, and his former executive assistant Julie Sukmann were included in his testament.

In the will, Cronkite stated that he wanted the estate to sell his property, which included a harborside home on Martha's Vineyard and his powerboat with all the proceeds divided among his children.

Cronkite passed away at the age of 92 in July 2009 after an extended illness. He died in his home in New York and was buried in Kansas City, 

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