Richard Threlkeld; reporter took versatility to networks

abc/file 1983

Mr. Threlkeld with ABC News. He worked there from 1982 to 1989 before returning to CBS.

NEW YORK - Richard Threlkeld, a far-ranging and award-winning correspondent who worked for CBS News and ABC News during a long career, was killed in a car crash on New York’s Long Island. He was 74.

Mr. Threlkeld died yesterday morning in Amagansett after his car collided with a propane tanker. He was pronounced dead at Southampton Hospital, according to the East Hampton Police Department. He lived in East Hampton.


The driver of the tanker, Earl Fryberger Jr., of Coatesville, Pa., was not injured, said police, who are investigating the accident.

Mr. Threlkeld spent more than 25 years at CBS News, retiring in 1998. He was a reporter, anchor, and bureau chief who covered the Persian Gulf War and the Vietnam War, the Patty Hearst kidnapping and trial, and the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.

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He worked alongside Lesley Stahl as co-anchor of “The CBS Morning News’’ from 1977-79 and reported for “CBS Sunday Morning’’ from its inception in 1979, as well as for “The CBS Evening News With Dan Rather.’’

In 1981, Mr. Threlkeld jumped to up-and-coming ABC News without fanfare and without telling CBS.

“I don’t like to horse trade. I’m not a horse,’’ Mr. Threlkeld said at the time. “After I decided ABC was the best place for me to go, it would have been wrong to make a verbal agreement and take it back to CBS to see what they could do.’’


At ABC News, he reported for “World News Tonight’’ in a role Mr. Threlkeld tailored for himself as a sort of roving news analyst.

Mr. Threlkeld returned to CBS News in 1989. His final assignment at CBS was as Moscow correspondent.

He originally joined CBS News in 1966 as a producer- editor based in New York.

Mr. Threlkeld was born in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, and was raised in Barrington, Ill. He graduated from Ripon College in Wisconsin and earned a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism.

He won several Emmy and Overseas Press Club awards and an Alfred I. du Pont-Columbia University Award.

He leaves his wife, Betsy Aaron, a former CBS and CNN correspondent; a brother, Robert of Port Townsend, Wash.; two children, Susan Paulukonis of Alameda, Calif., and Julie Threlkeld of Yonkers, N.Y.; and two grandchildren.

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