WASHINGTON D.C. (CelebrityAccess) — Jim Lehrer, co-founder and longtime anchor of the PBS NewsHour, died on Thursday at the age of 85.
According to an obituary published by PBS, Lehrer died peacefully in his sleep at home in Washington D.C.
Lehrer was best known for his long tenure as the anchor for PBS’s flagship nightly news program NewsHour, which he hosted for 36 years, starting each broadcast with his customary “Good Evening, I’m Jim Lehrer.
A native of Kansas, Lehrer studied journalism at the University of Missouri before enlisting in the army, where he served for three years as an officer in the infantry in the late 1950s.
In 1959, Lehrer began his career as a journalist, reporting for the Dallas Morning News and the Dallas Times-Herald and eventually rising to become the Times-Herald’s city editor in 1968.
Lehrer also transitioned to television in Dallas, accepting a position at public station KERA and eventually moving to the PBS precursor National Public Affairs Center for Television.
One of Lehrer’s first big stories with NPAT was covering the Nixon impeachment hearings, which included gavel-to-gavel coverage during the day along with analysis at night with Lehrer’s longtime broadcasting partner Jim MacNeil
The collaboration helped to establish the two journalists on the national stage and in 1975 they launched The Robert MacNeil Report which later became the MacNeil-Lehrer Report.
In 1983, the program expanded to one hour of news and analysis and was recast as The MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour. When MacNeil retired 12 years later, Lehrer took the reigns with the show renamed to The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.
In addition to his work as a journalist, Lehrer was also a prolific author, penning 20 novels, as well as plays and three different memoirs.
Over the course of his long career, Lehrer earned numerous awards for his contributions to journalism, including being elected as a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and being presented with a National Humanities Medal by then-President Bill Clinton.
Along with his broadcast partner Jim MacNeil, he was also inducted into the Television Hall of Fame in 1999.
Lehrer retired from his role as a full-time anchor of the NewsHour in 2011.
Lehrer was married for more than six decades to the novelist Kate Staples and together, they had three daughters and six grandchildren.