The recent passing of esteemed journalist Walter Cronkite has been in the hearts and minds of many Americans as of late – including one Bryan County couple that had multiple encounters with the journalist right here in Bryan County.
Bob and Jackie Bacot first met Cronkite in March of 1981 when his sailboat docked at the Kilkenny Marina, which is owned operated by the Bacots. Cronkite was in the midst of sailing along the entire eastern seaboard when he stopped at Kilkenny.
"He was a real nice guy – just like you saw on TV," Bob Bacot said. "He treated everybody he met here with respect and seemed like just a regular guy."
Cronkite docked with the Bacots again in November of 1982.
Bacot said Cronkite asked about car rentals, and he just lent him his vehicle. Cronkite drove to Savannah to see artist Ray Ellis, who he worked with to create the book "South by Southeast," which chronicled his sailing ventures along the coast and included artwork from Ellis. Cronkite mailed an autographed copy of his book to the Bacots when it was released in 1983.
"He was down to earth and extremely pleasant," said Richmond Hill resident JR Gill, who encountered Cronkite during one of his Bryan County visits. "He was a great man that will be greatly missed."
Richmond Hill resident Victor Pisano, who also takes residence in Martha’s Vineyard, befriended Cronkite after meeting him in New York.
"I knew Walter Cronkite at first through mutual friend and Savannah/Vineyard painter Ray Ellis and also through working with his children - son Chip and daughter Nancy," Pisano said. "Walter thought himself a ‘writer’ first and, although deserving, he shied away from basking in the light of adulation others threw at him. Who will replace him as America’s Uncle? No one anytime soon."
"Walter first became a friend 34 years ago when we both discovered we liked playing tennis at the Edgartown Yacht Club at 8 a.m.," Ellis said. "Our professional relationship began in 1981 when he agreed to co-author our first book together, South by Southeast. We then collarborated on two other books, North by Northeast and Westwind. By agreeing to do these books with me, Walter was undoubtedly the most influential man in furthering my art career. As the years went on, we continued to see each other every summer on the Vineyard and talk on the phone during the winter months. I shall miss his humor, his fascinating stories, and his companionship."
Bob Bacot said numerous celebrities have docked at the Kilkenny Marina during the 50-plus years his family has run the facility, including Frances Langford.