Peter Jennings Remembered

Sept. 20, 2005 — -- Friends and colleagues celebrated the life, work and legacy of ABC News anchorman Peter Jennings today in a memorial service at New York's Carnegie Hall.

"I felt a thrill whenever I saw him," said ABC colleague and friend Ted Koppel, describing Jennings' smarts and "animal magnetism."

"Peter was self-conscious about his good looks and his lack of education," Koppel said. "He spent his adult life soaking up knowledge."

Members of the NYPD Emerald Society Pipe and Drum Corps, escorted by two Royal Canadian Mountain Police, opened the memorial service. As a tribute to Jennings' deep love for music, the ceremony featured performances by elite musicians from a broad range of genres, including a Bach cello suite by Yo-Yo Ma, a medley played by Celtic fiddling virtuoso Natalie MacMaster, a traditional folk ballad sung by Alison Krauss, and "A Fanfare for Peter" played by legendary jazz trumpeters Clark Terry, Wynton Marsalis and Jon Faddis.

Walt Disney Co. President, Chief Operating Officer and CEO-Elect Bob Iger, ABC News President David Westin, ABC News medical contributor Dr. Tim Johnson, and other colleagues and friends offered moving remembrances of their personal and professional relationships with Jennings.

"Peter was like a conductor," said longtime "World News Tonight" senior producer Thomas Nagorski. "He rearranged the show while we were on air, he rearranged our travel plans while in the air, he even tried to arrange our personal lives," he added.

Being with Peter Jennings stretched out the days and enriched the days, Nagorski said, explaining to the audience that Jennings' staff now wears plastic blue bracelets with the saying, "What Would Peter Do?"

"No one can replace a unique person like Peter," said actor Alan Alda. A close friend of Jennings, Alda said he admired his friend's warmth, intelligence and grace. He recalled Jennings' admiration for the power of the U.S. Constitution, and read from a copy Jennings had recently given him.

Jennings, the anchor and managing editor of ABC News' "World News Tonight" for more than 20 years, told viewers about his illness in an on-air announcement on April 5. He never returned to the broadcast. His family held a private service days after his death on Aug. 7 from lung cancer.

As one of America's most distinguished journalists, Jennings reported many pivotal, world-shaping events. He was also an author, writing "The Century" with Todd Brewster. The book, which was on The New York Times' best-seller list, is structured as an epic tale about "ourselves," featuring astonishing first-person accounts of the great events of the century.

Jennings was honored with many awards for news reporting, including 16 Emmys, two George Foster Peabody Awards, several Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Awards, several Overseas Press Club Awards and two consecutive Edward R. Murrow awards.

He lived in Manhattan with his wife, Kayce Freed. He had two children -- Elizabeth, 25, and Christopher, 23.

"I think Dad connected so well with children because he kept a childlike awe about the world," Christopher Jennings said at the service.

In the closing speech of the service, his older sister Elizabeth said, "Remembering him well will be the hardest thing we do."