With a distinguished 61-year journalism career behind him and an armload of Emmys and other accolades, it can hardly come as a surprise when Morley Safer retired in May 2016 at the age of 84. In a statement announcing his retirement, Safer said (via USA Today), “It’s been a wonderful run, but it’s time to say goodbye to all my friends at CBS and the dozens of people who support me kept on the air. But above all, I thank the millions of people who have remained loyal to our mission.”
A week after his retirement — and just four days after the premiere of a special 60 Minutes episode about his career titled Morley Safer: A Reporter’s Life — Safer succumbed to pneumonia at his home (via The New York Times) . Manhattan on May 19, 2016. According to CBS News, he was already in declining health when he announced his retirement and had reduced his workload over the past several years.
At the time of Safer’s death, CBS Chairman and CEO Leslie Moonves said, “Morley was one of the most important journalists in any media outlet,” adding that the veteran reporter was “also a gentleman, a scholar, a great storyteller…. one of the greatest treasures of CBS and journalism.” 60 Minutes executive producer Jeff Fager, meanwhile, observed, “Morley was a fixture, one of our pillars and an inspiration in so many ways.”
Safer was survived by his 48-year-old wife, anthropologist Jane Safer, as well as a daughter, three grandchildren and two siblings. Although he sadly did not enjoy a well-deserved retirement as one of the giants of modern journalism, Morley Safer’s incredible career and legacy will continue to stand the test of time.