Richard Threlkeld, 74, TV correspondent among last journalists out of Saigon

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In this Feb. 2, 1983 image released by ABC, ABC News correspondent Richard Threlkeld is shown in Chicago. Threlkeld, who worked for ABC News from 1982-89 and spent the majority of his career at CBS News, died Friday, Jan. 13, 2012, in Amagansett, N.Y., and was pronounced dead at Southampton Hospital. He lived nearby in East Hampton. (AP Photo/ABC Photo Archives)

NEW YORK – 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 Mr. 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 was not injured, said police, who are investigating the accident.

Mr. Threlkeld spent more than 25 years at CBS News before 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, the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy, and the execution of Gary Gilmore.

He was one of the last journalists evacuated from Phnom Penh and Saigon when those cities fell to the Communists in 1975.

CBS News correspondent Bob Simon was with him in Saigon.

“Richard was old school in the best sense,” Simon said. “He really didn’t give a damn about being on camera. He didn’t do many stand-ups. He always figured there was more interesting footage than himself.”

Mr. Threlkeld covered the presidential campaigns of candidates ranging from Barry Goldwater and Lyndon Johnson in the 1960s to Bill Clinton in the 1990s.

Born on Nov. 30, 1937, in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he was raised in northwest suburban Barrington. 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.

He is survived by his wife Betsy Aaron, a former CBS and CNN correspondent; two children, and two grandchildren.


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