He led us to Saigon, to Jonestown, to Selma, to Attica.
He took us around the planet, and he showed us the moon.
As anchorman of the "CBS Evening News," Walter Cronkite not only narrated a tumultuous era in American life but presided over the instant that television achieved its thunderbolt potential to be the most powerful communication tool in history.
Cronkite, who came to be called "the most trusted man in America," died Friday. He was 92.
His longtime chief of staff, Marlene Adler, said Cronkite died at 7:42 p.m. at his Manhattan home surrounded by family. She said the cause of death was cerebral vascular disease.
Cronkite was the face of the "CBS Evening News" from 1962 to 1981, when stories ranged from the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. to racial and anti-war riots, Watergate and the Iranian hostage crisis.
It was Cronkite who read the bulletins coming from Dallas when Kennedy was shot Nov. 22, 1963, interrupting a live CBS-TV broadcast of the soap opera "As the World Turns."
It would take 20 minutes for a camera to be sufficiently warmed up to broadcast his image, so Cronkite interrupted "As the World Turns" and reported the news over a screen slide that said "Bulletin."
An hour later, on the air in his shirt sleeves, Cronkite was handed a sheet of paper. He paused, swallowed, removed his glasses and looked into the camera.
Viewers already could surmise what was coming next, and it came in a grim, quavering voice:
"From Dallas, Texas, the flash, apparently official: President Kennedy died at 1 p.m. Central Standard Time."
Cronkite was the broadcaster to whom the title "anchorman" was first applied, and he became so identified in that role that eventually his own name became the term for the job in other languages. (Swedish anchors are known as Kronkiters; in Holland, they are Cronkiters.)
President Barack Obama issued a statement Friday saying Cronkite set the standard by which all other news anchors have been judged.
"His rich baritone reached millions of living rooms every night, and in an industry of icons, Walter set the standard by which all others have been judged," Obama said. "But Walter was always more than just an anchor. He was family. He invited us to believe in him, and he never let us down."
"Through it all, he never lost the integrity he gained growing up in the heartland," Obama said.
Walter Leland Cronkite Jr. was born Nov. 4, 1916, in St. Joseph, Mo., the son of a dentist. His family lived in Kansas City and then moved to Houston when he was 10.
By age 13, he had settled on journalism as his career. He wrote community news items for The Houston Post while in high school and dropped out of the University of Texas in Austin during his junior year for a newspaper job.
He went on to a variety of radio news positions in the Midwest, then joined the United Press in Kansas City in 1937.
In 1940, Cronkite married Mary Elizabeth "Betsy" Maxwell. They had three children, Nancy, Mary Kathleen and Walter Leland III. Betsy Cronkite died in 2005.
In 1950, Cronkite joined CBS and held a variety of assignments. In April 1962, he replaced Douglas Edwards as anchorman of the "CBS Evening News," a position he would hold for 19 years, through the civil rights movement, Vietnam, Watergate and the resignation of President Richard Nixon.
"He was a great broadcaster and a gentleman whose experience, honesty, professionalism and style defined the role of anchor and commentator," CBS Corp. Chief Executive Leslie Moonves said in a statement.
Cronkite followed the 1960s space race with open fascination, anchoring marathon broadcasts of major flights from the first suborbital shot to the first moon landing, exclaiming, "Look at those pictures, wow!" as Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon's surface in 1969. In 1998, for CNN, he went back to Cape Canaveral to cover John Glenn's return to space after 36 years.
"It is impossible to imagine CBS News, journalism or indeed America without Walter Cronkite," CBS News President Sean McManus said in a statement. "More than just the best and most trusted anchor in history, he guided America through our crises, tragedies and also our victories and greatest moments."
When he summed up the news each evening by stating, "And that's the way it is," millions agreed. His reputation survived accusations of bias by Nixon's vice president, Spiro Agnew, and being labeled a "pinko" in the tirades of a fictional icon, Archie Bunker of CBS's "All in the Family."
Two polls pronounced Cronkite the "most trusted man in America" : a 1972 "trust index" survey in which he finished No. 1, about 15 points higher than leading politicians, and a 1974 survey in which people chose him as the most trusted television newscaster.
"When the news is bad, Walter hurts," the late CBS president Fred Friendly once said. "When the news embarrasses America, Walter is embarrassed. When the news is humorous, Walter smiles with understanding."
And when Cronkite took sides, he helped shape the times. After the 1968 Tet offensive, he visited Vietnam and wrote and narrated a "speculative, personal" report advocating negotiations leading to the withdrawal of American troops.
"We have been too often disappointed by the optimism of the American leaders, both in Vietnam and Washington, to have faith any longer in the silver linings they find in the darkest clouds," he said, and concluded, "We are mired in stalemate."
After the broadcast, President Lyndon B. Johnson reportedly said, "If I've lost Cronkite, I've lost middle America."
Cronkite won numerous Emmys and other awards for excellence in news coverage. In 1978, he and the "CBS Evening News" were the first anchorman and daily broadcast ever given a DuPont award. Other honors included the 1974 Gold Medal of the International Radio and Television Society, a 1974 George Polk journalism award and the 1969 William Allen White Award for Journalistic Merit, the first ever to a broadcaster.
In the 1980s, CBS had a rule that everyone retired by 65. This allowed management to uproot the aging Cronkite in place of the up-and-coming Dan Rather, who was expected to woo a younger audience.
Rival ABC wanted Rather for their evening news. CBS didn't want that to happen. Cronkite was cut loose from the anchor desk in March 1981 with the promise he would do other shows, but his subsequent work with the network amounted to little.
After the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Cronkite was selected to introduce the postponed Emmy awards show. He told the audience that in its coverage of the attack and its aftermath, "television, the great common denominator, has lifted our common vision as never before."
Though he started his career in an era of typewriters and radios, Cronkite advocated technological advancement, particularly in news dissemination. In his autobiography, he forecast a future of revolutionary possibilities driven by a digital age.
"I expect to watch all of this from a perch yet to be determined," he added. "I just hope that wherever that is, folks will still stop me, as they do today, and ask: 'Didn't you used to be Walter Cronkite?' "
McClatchy Newspapers and The Associated Press contributed to this report.