“I’m heartbroken at the loss of someone who was central to my professional life, a mentor to me and someone whose friendship I’ve cherished for decades,” Judy Woodruff, who in 2013 succeeded Lehrer on the anchor desk at PBS NewsHour,” said in a statement. “I’ve looked up to him as the standard for fair, probing and thoughtful journalism and I know countless others who feel the same way.”
Tributes poured in from colleagues and watchers alike, including from Fox News’ Bret Baier, who called Lehrer “an inspiration to a whole generation of political journalists— including this one." Dan Rather said “few approached their work with more equanimity and integrity than Jim Lehrer.” And Jake Tapper of CNN called Lehrer “a wonderful man and a superb journalist.”
Lehrer was best known for his anchoring work, but he also moderated a dozen presidential debates and wrote several novels four plays and three memoirs, according to The New York Times. Prior to joining PBS, Lehrer worked as a reporter for Dallas public television station KERO, the Dallas Morning News, the Dallas Times-Herald and the National Public Affairs Center for Television.
Lehrer was born May 19, 1934. He attended Victoria College in Texas before studying journalism at the University of Missouri. He served for three years as an infantry officer in the U.S. Marine Corps, according to PBS.
He is survived by his wife of nearly 60 years, Kate Staples; his daughters Jamie, Lucy and Amanda and six grandchildren.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.