CBS NEWS correspondent Bob Simon walks through the town of Tomioka, Japan, three years after the 2011 Fukushima disaster. (.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Veteran CBS News correspondent Bob Simon, whose decades-long career included covering major overseas conflicts and surviving Iraqi prison, was killed in a car accident on Wednesday in New York City. He was 73.
No one expected the intrepid Simon, who was a well known figure in Israel based in Tel Aviv for many years, to die in his bed or his native New York. More likely, it was thought, he would be caught somewhere in the crossfire on foreign soil.
However, Simon, who covered wars and terrorist attacks in Vietnam, Europe, South America and the Middle East and went into the wilds of the African jungle and many other dangerous places in a career that spanned half a century died as a passenger in the back of a hired car not far from his Manhattan home “Bob Simon was a giant of broadcast journalism, and a dear friend to everyone in the CBS News family,” CBS News President David Rhodes said in a statement. “We are all shocked by this tragic, sudden loss.”
Veteran Israeli journalist Hirsh Goodman, who was a close friend of Simon’s, told The Jerusalem Post
, “Bob was a very skilled writer and observer of issues. Though people may not have agreed with his reportage with regard to Israel, no one would disagree that he put himself out in the field. He went where the story was. He digested it, he understood it, he wrote it beautifully and he narrated it beautifully. He was one of those reporters who didn’t sit around in his office on the phone. He went out into the field and got the story.”
Foreign correspondent Henrique Cymerman, who lived next door to Simon in Tel Aviv for many years, told Israel Radio that if anyone had told Simon how he would die, he would not have believed it, having reported from 67 countries and done almost everything a journalist could do, while winning 27 Emmy Awards for his work. He also won electronic journalism’s highest honor, the Alfred I. DuPont-Columbia University Award, for the piece “Shame of Srebrencia,” a 60 Minutes II report on genocide during the Bosnian War.
He was also very prescient, saying during the Gulf War, the Americans should focus more attention on Iran rather than Iraq. “He saw long before anyone else that Iran was the greater threat,” Cymerman said.
Cymerman called him “the icon of CBS” and said Simon loved coming back to Tel Aviv.
In 1991, together with three CBS News colleagues, Simon was captured, imprisoned and tortured by the Iraqi Army. He chronicled this experience in a book titled Forty Days, and later described his time in captivity as the most searing period of his life. However, this did not prevent him from taking further risks in his quest to get to the nitty gritty of the story and share it with his viewers.
He is survived by his wife, Françoise, a very popular figure in Israel; their daughter, Tanya and her husband, Dr. Evan Garfein; and his grandson, Jack, who CBS 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager described as “the joy of his life” as evidenced by the many photographs adorning Simon’s office.
Father and daughter, who is a 60 Minutes producer, often worked together and, to some extent, she will carry on her father’s legacy.
Their last joint report about the Ebola virus and search for a cure is due to air Sunday.
Reuters contributed to this report.