Former NPR Host And CBS Correspondent Lee Thornton Dies

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Robert Siegel remembers a former colleague, Lee Thornton, who died of cancer Wednesday. She co-hosted the weekend edition of NPR's All Things Considered in the mid-80s and a White House correspondent for CBS News before that. After NPR, Thornton served as the interim Associate Provost for Equity and Diversity at the University of Maryland.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

On May 12th, 1984, this program opened this way.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RADIO PROGRAM)

DAVID MOLPUS: Good evening. From National Public Radio in Washington, I'm David Molpus(ph).

LEE THORNTON: And I'm Lee Thornton with ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

SIEGEL: Former ALL THINGS CONSIDERED host Lee Thornton died earlier this week. She was in her late 60s. Her weekend co-host, David Molpus, wrote this today - Lee was a consummate professional and a likable partner. One of the stories she was most proud of focused on her hometown, Leesburg, Virginia, exploring the distance that it's come since desegregation and how far it still had to go.

(SOUNDBITE OF SINGING)

THORNTON: It is in the churches of Leesburg, including the two United Methodist Churches, that you see most vividly the distance that remains between the races. The vision in the United Methodist Church itself is nothing new. But here in Leesburg, the church's split over the issue of slavery never really healed.

SIEGEL: Lee Thornton broke racial barriers herself. Prior to coming to NPR in the mid-1980s, she covered the White House for CBS. She was the first African-American woman to do so and she was the first black host of ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. Lee worked at CNN after her time here and later served as a dean at the University of Maryland.

Broadcast journalist and ALL THINGS CONSIDERED alum, Lee Thornton.

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