Mary E. Cronkite, 89; Wife of Legendary CBS News Anchorman

From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Mary Elizabeth Cronkite, 89, the wife of former CBS television news anchorman Walter Cronkite, died Tuesday at their New York City apartment, said Julie Sukman, the newsman’s assistant. She was diagnosed with spinal cancer last week.

Known as Betsy Cronkite, she was working as a newspaper columnist in Kansas City, Mo., when she met her future husband, who was working at a local radio station. They were married March 30, 1940. She worked for the Kansas City-based Hallmark company during World War II. At the end of the war, she joined her husband in Brussels and later accompanied him to Moscow, where he worked for two years as a correspondent for United Press.

The couple moved to New York in the early 1950s and made it their home since then. Cronkite was named anchorman of the “CBS Evening News” in 1962 and held that post until he retired in 1981.

In his biography, “A Reporter’s Life,” Walter Cronkite wrote: “I attribute the longevity of our marriage to Betsy’s extraordinary keen sense of humor, which saw us over many bumps (mostly of my making), and her tolerance, even support for the uncertain schedule and wanderings of a newsman.”