Bill Plante, CBS News Correspondent, Dies at 84


William Plante, a long-serving White House broadcast journalist for CBS News, died yesterday of respiratory failure, according to his family. Plante, who lived in Washington, D.C., was 84 years old and was well known in Georgetown for his community involvement, especially at Holy Trinity Church, where he was a lector, reading the epistle at Mass.

According to CBS, “Plante retired from CBS News as senior White House correspondent in 2016 after 52 years with the news division. He served four tours in Vietnam – with award-winning reporting on the fall of Saigon and Cambodia – covered the civil rights movement, all the presidential elections from 1968 to 2016, and was the anchor of the ‘CBS Sunday Night News’  from 1988 to 1995.”

Plante was a CBS News White House correspondent for 35 years during the administrations of Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama; he covered the State Department during the administration of George H.W. Bush.

“He was brilliant, as a reporter and as a human being,” said “60 Minutes” correspondent Lesley Stahl, who covered the White House with Plante for 10 years. “There wasn’t anything Bill didn’t excel at in our profession: he was a gifted writer, a first-class deadline maker and a breaker of major stories. He’ll be remembered for his reports from the White House lawn, his booming voice that presidents always answered and his kind heart.”

Rev. Kevin Gillespie, S.J., pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Georgetown, told The Georgetowner: “Bill Plante, an extraordinary journalist who announced the events of history as they happened, was a man who also announced the Word of God to the faith community of Holy Trinity Church. Frequently, he proclaimed one of the Sunday Readings and when he did so, one sensed the Word of God being revealed through his deep and soothing voice. Bill, moreover, witnessed his belief in the Word through his love for his wife Robin, his family and all those who were touched by his gentleness and warmth. We shall miss his magnanimous presence.”

William Madden Plante was born in Chicago on Jan. 14, 1938. He began his broadcasting career in 1956 at Chicago area radio stations where he read news and broadcast classical music while he attended college locally at Loyola University. After graduating in 1959 with a B.S. in humanities, he landed a job as assistant news director at the Milwaukee, Wis., CBS affiliate, WISN-TV. According to CBS, he did news and weather in addition to assigning stories until 1963, when he was picked for a CBS Fellowship at Columbia University in New York, where he chose to study political science for his year-long term.

Plante was predeceased by his first wife, Barbara Barnes Plante, and a son, Patrick. He is survived by his wife of 34 years, Robin Smith; three brothers, Richard, Jim and John; sons Michael, Dan, Christopher, Brian and David. He is also survived by eight grandchildren and a great grandchild.

A funeral Mass will take place at Holy Trinity Church, at a date yet to be determined.

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