John W. Chancellor, 68, a retired reporter, anchorman and commentator with NBC News whose matter-of-fact coverage of stories from his native Chicago to news capitals all over the world made him one of the most trusted figures in American journalism, died July 12 at his home in Princeton, N.J. He had stomach cancer.
Except for a two-year hiatus from 1965 to 1967, when he headed the Voice of America, Mr. Chancellor worked for NBC from 1950 until 1993. He started his career when television news was in its infancy, but he always understood the vast power of the medium to touch hearts and minds and shape the national agenda.
In the golden days of the Big Three -- CBS, NBS and ABC -- when most people relied on the networks for news and when Cable News Network and round-the-clock radio news had yet to be invented, he was one of those who both defined and exemplified the medium.
Mr. Chancellor made his mark reporting on the civil rights movement in the South in the 1950s. He went on to cover the White House; 20 national political conventions; elections beyond counting; four wars, including the wars in Vietnam and the Persian Gulf; summit meetings and lesser conferences; and various events, great and small, from no fewer than 50 countries. He was in Berlin when the Wall, the great symbol of the Cold War, was put up in 1961, and he was there again in 1989 when it was taken down.
He interviewed every U.S. president from Harry S. Truman to Bill Clinton and every British prime minister from Clement Attlee to John Major. He made the first broadcast from a submerged submarine, off Cape Cod; walked girders to interview workers atop a 20-story construction project in Denver; and climbed Mount Washington in New Hampshire to report on military cold-weather maneuvers.
On election night in 1960, Mr. Chancellor set some sort of record for creative ad-libbing when he talked on a national hookup for an hour while John F. Kennedy was making his way to a dinner party in Hyannis Port, Mass. The broadcaster's studio monitor was broken, leaving him in the dark except for bits of information whispered to him by Reuven Frank, a producer and later president of NBC News.
For 14 months beginning in 1962, Mr. Chancellor was host of the "Today" show but gave it up because, he said, "musical acts at 7:45 in the morning, that was not for me."
As anchor or co-anchor of the "NBC Nightly News" from 1970 to 1982, Mr. Chancellor never quite bested Walter Cronkite, his great rival at CBS, in the battle for ratings, but he was a familiar and welcome presence in millions of living rooms across the nation. He provided commentary on the news program three times a week from 1982 until his retirement.
Although he confessed to having a streak of the ham actor in him, he never tried to upstage the news he was covering. With his quiet manner, his spectacles and his flat Midwestern accent, he struck many people as being professorial, and that impression became more pronounced as he got older.
"Being good at journalism does not mean being a big showoff or hot dog," he once said, "but finding ways of making the substance of news interesting to people."
Despite this self-effacing attitude, he was the story itself on one of his most memorable appearances. It occurred at the 1964 Republican National Convention in San Francisco. The conservative delegates, whose dominance at the convention gave the presidential nomination to Sen. Barry M. Goldwater, of Arizona, were so hostile to the news media that Mr. Chancellor thought some of them wanted to "swing ropes over the beams and hang us." He was briefly detained by security guards for blocking an aisle while conducting an interview.
"It's hard to be dignified at a time like this," he told listeners as he was led away. "I've been promised bail, ladies and gentlemen, by my office. . . . I'll check in later. This is John Chancellor, somewhere in custody."
Mr. Chancellor first gained national attention with his coverage of the struggle to integrate Central High School in Little Rock in September 1957. Gov. Orval Faubus called out the Arkansas National Guard, ostensibly to maintain order but in fact to prevent the federal-courted integration of Central High from being carried out. President Dwight D. Eisenhower responded by sending the 101st Airborne Division.
For several days, Mr. Chancellor was the only network correspondent on the scene. His cameraman caught unforgettable pictures of crowds of white people screaming with rage and hatred as nine African American children approached the school. Some of the most dramatic footage showed National Guardsmen barring 15-year-old Elizabeth Eckford with their rifles as she tried to enter the school with the mob at her back.
Every evening, Mr. Chancellor took a chartered plane to Oklahoma City, where he could file his report live. The impact of the story on the nation was immense.
"The images were so powerful they told their own truths and needed virtually no narration," David Halberstam reported in his 1993 book, "The Fifties." He added: "It was perhaps the first time a television rather than a print reporter had put his signature on so critical a running story. Chancellor not only worked hard but, to his credit, he never thought himself a star."
One of Mr. Chancellor's best sources on the Little Rock story was a 16-year-old Jewish student at Central High named Ira Lipman. In 1995, having made a fortune as the founder of Guardsmark Inc., a nationwide security company based in Memphis, Lipman established an annual $25,000 journalism prize in Mr. Chancellor's honor at the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania.
At a dinner marking the occasion, Lipman said he had helped the newsman in Little Rock because he thought of him as "my protection against the world's inequities. Through his reporting, John Chancellor dispelled the lies and ignorance with light and truth. For the first time, the new age of television journalism enabled the world to see with sudden immediacy all the ugliness of racial hatred."
John William Chancellor was born July 14, 1927. His father, E.M.J. Chancellor, owned several hotels in Chicago, and his mother, Mary Barrett Chancellor, was a hotel executive.
His father wanted him to become a lawyer, but the future anchorman told an interviewer that he had decided to be a journalist at the age of 13 when he went to a Laurel and Hardy movie where the crowd was so big that police had set up barricades. He began talking to the police, and they let him on their side of the barriers.
"I realized I was looking at two worlds," Mr. Chancellor said. "One was the public world outside police barricades and the other the world within the barricades, where only a few of us were allowed. I decided then and there that I wanted to spend my life inside the barricades, where I could observe."
He dropped out of high school, worked at odd jobs and served in the Army in a public relations unit. In 1948, after a year at the University of Illinois, he got a job as a copy boy at the Chicago Sun-Times. He worked his way up to rewrite man and general assignment reporter.
In 1950, having been fired by the newspaper in an economy move, he was hired as a summer replacement writing copy at WMAQ, the NBC station in Chicago. Bored with the work, he moved on to being a street reporter and found himself fascinated by the potential of television. For a story in that period involving the arrest of a homicide suspect, he won an award from the Society of Professional Journalists, then known as Sigma Delta Chi.
"Just by accident I happened to be the first guy on the scene when they flushed this guy out," he recalled. "There was a certain amount of bang-bang. Being a prudent man, I lay down on the street, let the bullets fly over, left the recording machine going. It made for a very interesting piece of tape."
Mr. Chancellor became NBC's Midwestern bureau manager. In 1958, he was assigned overseas and named bureau manager in Vienna. He later had postings in London, Moscow, Berlin and Brussels.
He was the network's chief White House correspondent when President Lyndon B. Johnson persuaded him to take over the Voice of America, the news arm of the U.S. Information Agency. During his tenure, he was credited with giving credibility to what many people had regarded as little more than a propaganda organization.
One of his first assignments after returning to NBC in 1967 was covering the Six-Day War in the Middle East. For the next three years, he was a roving correspondent for "The Huntley-Brinkley Report," the spectacularly successful evening news show that had Chet Huntley in New York and David Brinkley in Washington.
But he "didn't want to end up as an old correspondent standing in the rain outside some foreign ministry waiting for the communique at 2 in the morning," he said. So in 1970, he moved behind a desk and became an anchorman. For a year, he appeared with Frank McGee and Brinkley and then did the job alone until 1976, when Brinkley rejoined him. He was alone again from 1979 to 1982, when he was succeeded by Roger Mudd and Tom Brokaw.
In 1987, Mr. Chancellor published "The News Business," a guide for would-be journalists that he wrote with Walter Mears, of the Associated Press, and in 1990, he published "Peril and Promise, A Commentary on America." He settled in Princeton when he retired. His projects since then included narration of Ken Burns's television documentary "Baseball."
In April 1994, Mr. Chancellor was found to have stomach cancer. In several interviews, he said the disease had disabused him of a long-held belief that he was "part of a group God had picked to observe and to report on what happens to ordinary people and that I wasn't an ordinary person" and was, moreover, immune to the perils other people face.
"It's made me a fatalist," he said. "I realize we're all the same, that we operate under the same laws of probability, and my number just came up."
Mr. Chancellor's marriage to the former Constance Herbert ended in divorce.
Survivors include his wife, the former Barbara Upshaw, whom he married in 1958, of Princeton; a daughter from his first marriage; and a son and daughter from his second marriage. WILLIAM JOHN CASSIDY Emergency Physician
William John Cassidy, 61, chairman of the department of emergency medicine at Fairfax Hospital from 1972 to 1989, died after surgery for a bleeding ulcer July 10 at Fair Oaks Hospital. A former resident of Reston, he moved to Miami from Middleburg two years ago.
Dr. Cassidy began practicing medicine in 1966 in Reston as one of the new town's first physicians. He joined the Fairfax Hospital emergency room staff the next year and retired in 1992.
He also was medical adviser to the Fairfax Fire and Rescue Department and the county police and a member of a number of emergency medical advisory committees in the Washington area. He was given the Virginia governor's emergency medical award in 1989.
Dr. Cassidy was a native of Paterson, N.J., and a graduate of Georgetown University and its medical school. He interned at Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami and then served in the Public Health Service on a Coast Guard cutter in the North Atlantic.
He did his residencies in internal medicine and cardiology at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Washington.
Dr. Cassidy, who co-wrote articles on emergency care, was president of the Northern Virginia EMS Council, a fellow of the American College of Emergency Physicians, a volunteer with the Special Olympics in Fairfax County and a member of the Fairfax County Medical Society and St. Stephen's Catholic Church in Middleburg.
Survivors include his wife of 36 years, Clotilda Bowie Cassidy of Miami; and three children, William John Cassidy III and Gwynn Alys Cassidy, both of Miami, and Michael Bowie Cassidy of Hilton Head, S.C. JASPER C. VANCE JR. Army Colonel
Jasper C. Vance Jr., 75, a heavily decorated Army veteran who served nearly 30 years before retiring in 1974 as a colonel and provost marshal in the office of the chief of engineers, died July 3 at the VA Medical Center in Washington. He had Alzheimer's disease.
Col. Vance served as provost marshal in Saigon from 1965 to 1966. He then commanded the criminal investigation unit with the First Army at Fort Meade from 1966 to 1970. Then, until 1971, he served a second Vietnam tour, this time as provost marshal of the XXIV Corps headquarters. He took his post with the chief of engineers in 1971 and retired because of a kidney ailment.
His military decorations included three awards of the Legion of Merit, four Bronze Stars, the Purple Heart, four Air Medals, five Army Commendation Medals with Combat V's, the Navy Commendation Medal with combat V and the Soldier's Medal for saving life.
He entered the Army in 1946 and was commissioned following officer's candidate school. He joined the Military Police Corps. His early career included a tour as an adviser to the South Korean national police. He also was a military law instructor at the U.S. Forces School in West Germany.
Col. Vance, an Arlington resident, was a Tennessee native. He was a Treasury Department investigator in South America before entering the Army. He was a police science and administration graduate of Michigan State University. He also attended Northwestern University's Traffic Institute and studied business administration at George Washington University. The military schools he attended included the Army Command and Staff College.
He was a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Big Brothers of America, the Disabled American Veterans and the National Association of Chiefs of Police.
Survivors include his wife of 45 years, Evelyn, of Arlington; two daughters, Julie Vance of Northport, N.Y., and Pamela Vance of New York; a brother, Harold, of Panama City Beach, Fla.; and four sisters, Jeanne Vaughn of Festus, Mo., Doris Mahn of De Soto, Mo., Marilyn Hogenmiller of Bridgeton, Mo., and JoAnn Backer of Claremont, Calif. WILLIAM HAYWOOD JOHNSON JR. Computer Specialist
William Haywood Johnson Jr., 84, a computer specialist who retired in 1976 after 30 years with the Army Department, died July 10 at his home in Annapolis. He had Alzheimer's disease.
Mr. Johnson was a native of Eagle Rock, Va., and a graduate of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. He served in the Navy during World War II.
Mr. Johnson, a resident of the Washington area for 67 years, began his career with the Army as a tabulating supervisor. He lived in Arlington and McLean before moving to Annapolis three years ago.
Survivors include his wife of 51 years, Phyllis Hughes Johnson of Annapolis; two sons, William Haywood Johnson III of Bowie and Frank Hughes Johnson of Silver Spring; and two grandchildren. HERMAN GLAZER Certified Public Accountant
Herman Glazer, 72, a certified public accountant in Rockville who had lived and worked in the Washington area for 50 years, died of cancer July 11 at Suburban Hospital. He was a resident of Bethesda.
Mr. Glazer was a native of the Bronx, N.Y., and a graduate of City College of New York.
He was a Mason and a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Association of Practicing CPAs and B'nai Israel Congregation in Rockville.
His wife of 50 years, Helen W. Glazer, died in last year. Survivors include three children, Michael Glazer and Sherry Wachtel, both of Potomac, and Daniel Glazer of Rockville; three brothers, Julius Glazer of Staten Island, N.Y., Abraham Glazer of Los Angeles and Murray Glazer of Bellmore, N.Y.; and seven grandchildren. CAPTION: JOHN W. CHANCELLOR