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Richard Threlkeld dies

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Richard Threlkeld
CBS /Landov

Richard Threlkeld, a far-ranging and award-winning correspondent who worked for both CBS and ABC News during a long career, has been killed in a car crash on New York’s Long Island.

The 74-year-old Threlkeld died Friday morning in Amagansett, N.Y., when his car collided with a propane tanker. He was pronounced dead at Southampton Hospital, according to the East Hampton (N.Y.) Police Department. He lived in nearby East Hampton.

The driver of the tanker, Earl Fryberger Jr., of Coatesville, Penn., was not injured, said police, who are investigating the accident.

Threlkeld spent more than 25 years at CBS News, retiring in 1998. He was a reporter, anchor, and bureau chief who covered the Persian Gulf War and the Vietnam War, the Patty Hearst kidnapping and trial, and the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.

He worked alongside Lesley Stahl as co-anchor 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.

In 1981, Threlkeld decided to jump to up-and-coming ABC News without fanfare and without telling CBS.

“I don’t like to horse-trade. I’m not a horse,” Threlkeld told the Associated Press at the time. “After I decided ABC was the best place for me to go, it would have been wrong to make a verbal agreement and take it back to CBS to see what they could do.”

At ABC News, he reported for World News Tonight in a role Threlkeld tailored for himself as a sort of roving news analyst.

On Friday, ABC News president Ben Sherwood called Threlkeld a “terrific writer and master storyteller… always full of ideas.”

Threlkeld returned to CBS News in 1989. His final assignment at CBS was as Moscow correspondent.

He originally joined CBS News in 1966 as a producer-editor based in New York.

Born on Nov. 30, 1937, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he was raised in Barrington, Ill. He graduated from Ripon (Wis.) College and earned a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

During his career, he won several Emmy and Overseas Press Club awards, and an Alfred I. du Pont-Columbia University Award.

He is survived by his wife, Betsy Aaron, a former CBS and CNN correspondent; a brother, Robert, of Port Townsend, Wash.; two children, Susan Paulukonis, of Alameda, Calif., and Julie Threlkeld of Yonkers, N.Y.; and two grandchildren.

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