Posted: Jan 10, 2013 10:54 AM by Bart Bedsole / Ben Lloyd
Updated: Jan 10, 2013 6:46 PM
CORPUS CHRISTI - Late Wednesday evening those of us in the newsroom got word that longtime KZTV news anchor Walter Furley passed away.
He died at his home after a battle with lymphoma at the age of 84. We'd like to offer our condolences to his family.
His wife, Patricia, says she was preparing for the choir of First United Methodist Church to arrive at the family home. They intended to sing to Walter from outside as he lay in bed.
There are those among us here at KRIS Communications (KRIS and KZTV), as well as other news outlets in town, that got their first start in television from Mr. Furley. He wore many hats as the news anchor, news director and weather presenter.
His career on the small screen in television spanned over 50 years in Corpus Christi. Just 10 years ago in May 2002 he signed off as KZTV's news anchor for the last time.
In his early days, viewers would often see a lighter side of Furley and partner Gene Looper with bits and sketches featuring the two.
Aside from the anchoring and the antics, Furley was a family man. A dedicated father and husband to his wife, Pat.
After local news he often moderated debates, spoke to local groups or appeared in commercials, even singing when requested at special events. Furley was an active member of First United Methodist on Shoreline.
But the microphone that matters most, to him and his fans, was the one on the anchor desk for all those years.
He also did his best in his fight against cancer, which started back in May, right up until the end. A disease that robbed him of his life, but certainly not his legacy.
As he said many years ago, "The news industry is still an industry of truth, and that's the opinion of Walter W. Furley."
Funeral arrangements have not been made yet. A public memorial will be held at First United Methodist Church in Corpus Christi, 2pm, on January 19th.
You could also call our 'Sound Off' line to leave a message at 361-654-1630 or 361-654-1680.
Here's Walter Furley's wrote about his own life in September 2010:
Walter Furley retired in May 2002 from KZTV, Channel 10 in Corpus Christi after serving there for forty five years as television news anchor, reporter and eventually, news director. He was graduated with a BFA from The University of Texas in 1949, going to work immediately for KSIX-AM Corpus Christi, the eventual parent of KZTV, giving him a total of fifty-three years with the same broadcasting company, owned by Vann M. Kennedy.
After serving two years as the KSIX Klock Watcher on radio, he was drafted into the 45th Division of the Oklahoma National Guard and served in Japan and Korea for two years. Upon release, he used his GI Bill to do graduate work at Columbia University, then returned to KSIX as announcer and traffic manager. With the help of a fellow Corpus Christian, Allen Ludden at NBC in New York, he took a job as assistant producer of the NBC radio show "Weekday" from 1956 to 1957. The show ran from 10:00 AM.to 4:00 PM and was a radio effort to duplicate the success of the Today Show on NBC-TV. It starred Margaret Truman and Mike Wallace. "Weekday" closed in the spring of 1957 and Furley returned to Corpus Christi where his radio station had secured a television broadcast license from the FCC.
Furley was on the ground floor of the industry when it was all black and white production, when all local production was done live before video tape was invented and before color television was even dreamed of. It was over a y ear before a co-axial cable connection was made with the New York networks, so any network show broadcast locally was by telescope, or a black and white film of the television program, delayed by at least a week after the New York airing. Illustrations in newscasts were first done with Polaroid shots, then black and white film, which was developed as a negative, and then telecast in reverse polarity to produce a positive image. Furley saw news photography grow from Bell and Howell film cameras to the Sony and other video tape processes.
Since retirement, Furley has marveled at seeing that process go digital so that the marvel of video tape became antique in just the past few years.
KZTV's owner, Vann M. Kennedy was a newspaper man, who concentrated heavily on a news department. He assigned Furley as anchor and producer of the noon newscast immediately on his return from New York, and that newscast was rated number one from the outset, remaining in that position until his retirement in 2002. In addition to that newscast, Furley fulfilled duties as feature reporter, interim news director and primetime news anchor for several years until he was made fulltime news director in the early 1980s, still maintaining his top rated newscast at noon.
KZTV began broadcasting in 1956 directly from its transmitter in Robstown, some 20 miles outside the city limits of Corpus Christi, requiring the news team to do its production downtown, then rush out to the transmitter for the telecast. This procedure was maintained three times a day for five days a week and once a day on weekends and continued for over 25 years with the station never missing a newscast except in 1970 when Hurricane Celia knocked the station off the air for ten days.
The station's downtown studio was completed in l986 and became the top studio in the city at that time.
Furley retired from KZTV May 31st, 2002, after serving fifty-three years with KSIX, INC., forty-five of those years with the television station. The long term earned him a place in the Guinness Book of World Records as "The Most Durable News Reader" in the world. Del Mar college honored him with an alumni tribute dinner in July of that year to raise money for school scholarships.
Furley has been active in the community during his career. He is married to Patricia Wentworth Furley, UT BM 1956, retired harpist for the Corpus Christi Symphony. He has served as narrator for several Symphony concerts, such as "Peter and the Wolf", Britten's "Young People's Guide to the Orchestra", Honneger's "King David": and Saint Saens' "Carnival of the Animals". He even sang in the chorus of some of the Symphony's opera productions, such as "La Boheme", "El Trovatore", "Merry Widow", "Salome", and even had a two measure solo in "La Forza del Destino".
He has performed leads in Harbor Playhouswe productions of "Man for All Seasons", "South Pacific", "Pajama Game" and "The Music Man". He was in the opening play of the first Little Theatre production "Light Up the Sky" in 1951. He has sung the part of El Gallo in "Fantasticks" in six different productions.
Walter and Patricia are parents of two sons, Ric who now lives in Austin, and their late son, Jon. Retirement has meant more time to help Patricia transport her harp to her various engagements, and spend more time traveling to spur-of-the-moment destinations.
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