Ripon graduate brought the news to the world

Remembered at Ripon College as an editor of the Crimson yearbook and a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Richard Threlkeld ’59 became a well-known news correspondent. His death after an automobile accident in January 2012 ended a career as a reporter, anchor and bureau chief with tenures at both CBS and ABC News.

Threlkeld was renowned for reporting from Vietnam and Moscow, the Persian Gulf War, the Patty Hearst kidnapping and trial, the Angela Davis trial, the Stanford University heart transplant on Mike Kasperak and the assassination and funeral of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.

He was co-anchor with Lesley Stahl of “The CBS Morning News” from 1977-79, and reported for “CBS Sunday Morning” from its inception in 1979, as well as for “The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather.” He was a national correspondent for ABC’s “World News Tonight” from 1981 to 1989, before he returned to CBS News.

At Ripon, Threlkeld studied political science and history. He credited Ripon’s liberal arts education with helping him become a “generalist” in journalism, rather than a specialist. “You have to have a framework of things before you can report,” Threlkeld once said. “It’s so nice to have been to a college like Ripon where you have the opportunity to get a background in history, political science, economics and other areas.

“Ripon was a remarkable learning and preparatory experience. I came here because I wanted to go to a small school. … I knew I was going to be a journalist, and I wanted to learn about as many different kinds of things and as many different areas of education as I could – economics, political science, history.”

His 2001 book, “Dispatches from the Former Evil Empire,” features his observations of the scene inside Russia and many of its old Soviet allies under the waning years of Boris Yeltsin’s regime. The preface is by Betsy Aaron, a CNN reporter and Threlkeld’s wife.

Journalistic honors awarded to Threlkeld include an Emmy Award for his work with CBS, an Overseas Press Club award for his reporting on Lebanon and Grenada, an Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia Award for “Status Reports” on ABC’s World News Tonight” and the New York State Bar Association Award for his “Crime in America” series.


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