Lew Wood


LOS ANGELES (AP) - Lew Wood, who marched with Martin Luther King, covered John F. Kennedy's assassination and was a news anchor for NBC's "Today" show during a distinguished broadcast career that began with the dawn of television, has died at age 84.

Wood, who had been in declining health, died of kidney failure Wednesday at a hospice in Riverside County, his daughter Brigitte Wood told The Associated Press.

He was perhaps best known as "Today's" third news anchor, succeeding Frank Blair in 1975. Although Blair had held the job for 22 years, Wood left after just a year, going into public relations. He stayed in that field until retiring in 2006.

"He always joked that when he left the 'Today' show, it was due to illness and fatigue. They were sick and tired of him," his daughter said with a laugh Thursday.

With the show's producers deciding to take the program's news report in a different direction, Wood moved on to public relations, tr aining corporate executives how to present themselves to the media and working for the American Legion and other organizations.

Before taking the "Today" show job, he had anchored the news for WNBC in New York and worked as a correspondent for CBS.

For the latter network he reported on the 1960s Civil Rights movement, accompanying King on one of his marches. He was also in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963, as part of the CBS team covering Kennedy's campaign swing through Texas.

Wood had covered a breakfast speech Kennedy made in nearby Fort Worth, and snapped a personal photo of the president greeting well-wishers before Kennedy left for the Dallas motorcade where he would be fatally shot. After his departure, Wood headed to a restaurant for lunch, stopping briefly to check in with fellow correspondent Dan Rather, who was covering the motorcade.

In a remembrance posted on the website reportersnotebook.net, he recalled Rather telling him, "Hold On Lew - don't go away," then quickly coming back on the line to say the president had been shot and he should go to the hospital.

"Which he did," said Rather, who spoke warmly of Wood on Thursday, remembering him as both a fine reporter and collegial colleague.

"He was a workhorse, very steady and reliable, excellent reporter and had good on-camera presence," Rather told the AP.

Wood, who earned a degree in speech and broadcasting from Purdue University, began his career in radio at WDZ-AM in Decatur, Ill., in 1952. He transitioned to TV a year later, joining WSBT Radio and TV in South Bend, Ind., where he worked as both reporter and cameraman and anchored the evening news.

In addition to his daughter, Wood is survived by his wife, Monique; son Robert; two other daughters, Carole Gorenslo and Lara Wood; 10 grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

A memorial service is scheduled Aug. 31 at St. Thomas of Canterbury Episcopal Church in Temecula.

Copyright © 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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Dear Monique... I am so, so sorry to hear of Lew's passing in the Boat Basin newsletter. It has been 33 years since I last saw you both on your boat in Florida. I will always remember Lew running to catch our bow line as I sailed my tiny Cal 20 into the Boat Basin for the first time...and many other memories. Please email me at [email protected]

To the Wood family: It was a great pleasure to visit with Lew and Monique when they came to Madison in the fall of 2011 to meet with our mother. Mother was so very happy to have had the opportunity to talk with Lew before her passing a few months later. Please accept our heartfelt condolences for your loss. -
The family of Helen Wood Rowlett – Madison, IN.

Dear Wood family,
I was so sad to read of Lew's death in the Indianapolis newspaper. Monique and Bri I remember his handsome smiling face the many times he came to the Hallmark store to visit you. A kind and sweet man. Please accept my deepest sympathies.
Deborah Miller Moseley

I remember Lew and Monique very well from their time at St. Paul's, Indianapolis. May God bless all the family. Mary Anne Winslow

Very sorry to hear of the passing of Mr. Wood. He and his family were neighbors down and across the street in Arrowhead Estates in Indianapolis when he worked for the American Legion. I believe Monique ran a Hallmark gift store in Fishers, and daughter Brigitte babysat for our daughter Hopeann many times. As I had been in radio and TV journalism prior to our move to Indy, I always enjoyed talking with Lew during "Gourmet Club" gatherings about his broadcasting experiences. God...

I grew up watching Lew in New York and on the national scene. He was a steady and warm presence who left an imprint on my professional aspirations and career. I will mark 30 years as a news anchor this year and in no small measure do I owe my career to inspirations like Lew. To his family and millions who remember, my heartfelt sympathies