SCOTT SIMON, HOST:
As a young reporter, Tom Wicker covered a beaver dam for the Sandhill, North Carolina Citizen. He went on to travel the world as a White House reporter and columnist for the New York Times and was in Dallas on November 22nd, 48 years ago this week when John F. Kennedy was shot. It was in a world before cell phones and text messages.
Tom Wicker blinked back tears, scrawled notes on the back of White House press releases, and grabbed pay phones to dictate some of the vivid personal details of a historic tragedy. Her face was sorrowful, he said in his long rolling dispatch describing Jacqueline Kennedy leaving the hospital in Dallas. She looked steadily at the floor. She still wore the raspberry-colored suit in which she greeted welcoming crowds, but she had taken off the matching pillbox hat she had worn earlier in the day and her dark hair was windblown and tangled. Her hand rested lightly on her husband's coffin as it was taken to a waiting hearse. Tom Wicker went on to write 20 books, including novels, and was asked by prison inmates to be a mediator in the 1971 uprising in Attica prison, about which he wrote his 1975 book "A Time to Die." Tom Wicker was 85 when he died yesterday, peacefully at his home in Vermont.
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