There's much to mourn in Texas today with news that Walter Cronkite's suffering from cerebrovascular disease that will take him at any time and word from Los Angeles that Farrah Fawcett has died of cancer.
Both were legends with deep roots in the Lone Star State.
New York Post TV critic Linda Stasi's column shared an e-mail from Cronkite's children that sought to clear up all the rumors about the news legend's health: "In order to dispel false rumors, Walter Cronkite's family want it known that, sadly, he is very ill and is not expected to recuperate; he is resting at home surrounded by family, friends and a wonderful medical team. We thank everyone for their prayers and good wishes."
Cronkite was a native of St. Joseph, Mo., but attended the University of Texas at Austin in the 1930s, working on the staff of The Daily Texan before joining UPI as a reporter. His wire service work took him to bureaus across the state that he embraced in a special way. The Museum of Broadcast Communications site has a good look at Cronkite's life.
I don't think he ever lost that edge that great wire service reporters bring to coverage. They're blinding-fast thinkers and writers with an incredible gift for clarity and digging out credible facts. Cronkite had those characteristics. And print reporters, many of whom disparage big-time TV news anchors, held Cronkite in high esteem. He was a newsman's newsman and polished in his graciousness. This is not a good time to lose Walter Cronkite. Or so it would seem. But we yield to a greater Will.
Then there's the death of Farrah Fawcett -- a gorgeous Corpus Christi native who grew up in an equally gorgeous neighborhood across from Corpus Christi Bay. Her official blog today stated simply and anonymously: "I am sorry to say our Farrah has passed to a better place and left the pain and confines of her bed behind. She is free to be the woman we all knew and loved. So Few have touched so many. You all keep Fighting the Fight."
I was never much of a fan of hers, but I admired her achievements. My chief attraction to her was concern for her personal life. As the father of three daughters, I worried about Farrah's seeming weakness for men who hurt her. Maybe that was Hollywood hype to win sympathy for her, but I prayed that my daughters would not land on such a path. My heart went out to Farrah every time I'd see yet another story -- no matter whether probably true or probably questionable -- about her tormented love life. I've read that she'd written a note to her dad, saying that she'd had a great life and lots of love.
I've wondered over the years, as I followed reports about Farrah's life, how some men can poison their families and become so consumed with themselves. It's disgraceful.
I pray for peace for Farrah Fawcett and for Walter Cronkite. God bless them and their loved ones.