Renowned ABC journalist and American political commentator Cokie Roberts died Tuesday of complications from breast cancer. She was 75.
While her career took her around the world, there was one South Carolina island town that always managed to capture her time and her heart. Since 1978, Pawleys Island served as a relaxing vacation spot for the veteran journalist and best-selling author. She eventually purchased a home there.
"When I'm in Pawleys Island, what I'm aiming for is relaxation," Cokie told Myrtle Beach Online. "It often eludes me when called upon by my grandchildren and great nieces. I do a lot of writing. I write in a closet that actually has a wonderful view of the ocean, on the north end, so I just put a desk in there. I'm always excited to come there and I love being a part of the community."
Born in New Orleans in 1943, Roberts spent the majority of her time working and living in the greater Washington, D.C., area. In an interview with the South Strand News in 2014, she recalled how she asked a friend where she could find a place to vacation that was most like a Grecian Island. She told the site that Pawleys Island ended up fitting the description.
Steven Roberts, her husband and also a veteran journalist, was interviewing Rep. James R. Mann of South Carolina one day when he saw a brochure for Pawleys Island. It captured her husband's attention.
“So he asked the receptionist what he would do if he wanted to vacation there," Cokie Roberts told the South Strand News. "And she said, ‘you’d call Pawleys Island Realty.’ And he did, and we’ve been coming here since 1978.”
Their first rental house was near the North Causeway. In 2007 Cokie and Steven Roberts found a place on Atlantic Avenue to make it a permanent part-time home away from home.
“It’s unique, you can be so close to the ocean and have so much privacy,” she said.
But the Roberts were hardly just guests in South Carolina. The couple had an active philanthropic presence in the area.
The couple would frequently have speaking engagements at Coastal Carolina University and Brookgreen Gardens. They often raised money for charitable causes, such as hosting a fundraiser for the victims of Georgetown’s Front Street fire. The South Strand News reported that the couple paid "a lot of taxes."
Cokie Roberts also took up the cause of children's literacy. She gave a talk for Miss Ruby's Kids, a reading program started in 2003 in nearby Georgetown County.
"I feel very strongly that as a homeowner in Pawleys Island, the Pawleys community should be part of my life," she told Myrtle Beach Online. "We are now living in a world where we simply can't afford as a society, either competitively or morally, to lose our kids. You're not going to make a good living anymore in the steel plant in Georgetown or on a car assembly line without an education."
Roberts was the daughter of Hale Boggs, a former House majority leader from Louisiana, and Lindy Boggs, who succeeded her husband in Congress. Roberts worked in local news and with CBS News before joining NPR to cover Congress in 1978. She joined ABC a decade later, not leaving NPR.
She co-anchored the Sunday political show "This Week" with Sam Donaldson from 1996 to 2002.
Former President Barack Obama said Roberts was a role model for women at a time the journalism profession was still dominated by men, and was a constant over 40 years of a shifting media landscape and changing world.
"She will be missed, and we send our condolences to her family," Obama said.
Former President George W. Bush and his wife, Laura, called Roberts a talented, tough and fair reporter.
"We respected her drive and appreciated her humor," the former president said. "She became a friend."
Roberts, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002, kept working nearly to the end.
She co-wrote a political column for many years with Steven. They had two children.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.