Meeting Walter Cronkite

During his 1996 visit to Kansas City, I made it my mission to meet the legendary voice behind the CBS Evening News, Walter Cronkite.  He would return to visit KC about three or four years after that until his death, and his ashes will be buried in the Kansas City area.

When his biography "A Reporter's Life" was released (which I wish was three times bigger than it turned out to be) I bought a copy and wished he could autograph it for me.  Once I heard he was coming to his old stomping grounds, KCMO Radio, I thought I might try to see him there.  There was also a regular book signing at a temple in the Plaza.  I turned on KCMO two hours early to get ready to listen to Mr. Cronkite's stories.. only to hear him say he was on his way to the book signing!  He was already finished with his talk show visit!

So I drove to the Plaza with my Cronkite book.  Running up to get in line at the temple to join the crowd, the book shop managers told me, no, no.. you must buy Mr. Cronkite's book to come inside and see him.  I had $10 in my pocket!  So I quickly walked around, desperately looking for an ATM just to get some more cash!  There it is.. over there!  After a quick beep, beep, beep, I took my cash and headed back to the temple.  Is that dedication from a guy who anchors news for a CBS station with Walter Cronkite as his idol?

With two of his books in my hand, I grabbed and seat and waited.  And waited.  And there he was..

Mr. Cronkite was dressed in a powder blue suit, sporting his cloud white hair.  He was greeted with a rousing ovation.  He nodded, sat down without making any remarks, and started signing books.  It didn't take too long to get up front.  I wanted to think of some way to tell him how much I admired him, and his career.  When I mentioned to him that I was the anchor for WIBW, he asked me "how are things in Topeka?"  And he signed both books for me.  Wow.  It was quite a moment.

The details are so clear to me now, on his passing, since I still consider it a special memory.. just to be at his side for a few seconds.  He is another iconic American whose achievements are astounding, and his career can never be matched.   

Share your Walter Cronkite thoughts with us.  We look forward to reading your notes to us on almost 20 years of watching him on Channel 13.    Ralph 

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