Colleagues and friends of Chet Curtis, who died Wednesday from pancreatic cancer, remember the longtime Boston anchor as “magnetic” and “an amazing guy.” WCVB, where Curtis worked for nearly 30 years, has a collection of tributes from current and former staffers:
“I was out with a couple of former photographers at WCVB recently. And the one comment that seemed to resurface was nobody ever had a bad word to say about him,” former WCVB anchor Jim Boyd said. “I mean, he was just the ultimate professional, a great friend, a very giving and loving person.”
“Chet was the kind of person who always made you feel good, no matter whether you were in a tense newsroom or just chatting in the hallway. He had that gift to envelop you with a kind of cloud of happiness,” recalled former WCVB medical editor Tim Johnson. “But I have to say almost in the same breath he was an excellent news man. He had great news instincts. He never acted like some of the caricatures of news men we see on the TV or in the movies. He had very good instincts, and you could always trust what he was trying to do with whatever news was at hand.”
WGBH host Emily Rooney, the daughter of the late Andy Rooney, told The Boston Globe “there is no single human being in the world, Peter Jennings included, who was better at the ad lib than Chet.” Rooney, who is a former WCVB news director, shared a famous Curtis story:
In recalling her friend and colleague, Rooney passed along a story Mr. Curtis relished telling on himself. As a young reporter with WCBS in New York, he was sitting at a bar one evening when fire trucks roared by. A colleague wondered if they should give chase. No, Mr. Curtis said, they were too “big-time” for that.
“At that, the man sitting beside him rushed out the door in pursuit,” Rooney wrote. “It was Walter Cronkite.”