Legendary CBS reporter Morley Safer passed away on May 19 at the age of 84. His death came a week after he retired from his position at 60 Minutes. It was a role he held since 1970, though it wasn’t the longest relationship he had. That honor belonged to his wife of 48 years, Jane Fearer. The couple were married in 1968 and had one daughter, Sarah, together. Four days before his death, CBS aired a special dedicated to Safer’s career. His final show had been on May 11.
Here’s what you need to know about the love of Safer’s life:
1. She’s a Graduate of Both Columbia & Oxford University
A profile of Fearer on the website for the American Theater Wing details her academic life studying Social Anthropology at both Columbia and Oxford. From there, she held “senior positions” at the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs and at the New York Hall of Science.
In addition, the theater says Safer worked at “the Andrei Sakharov Museum in Moscow, the National Museum of Hungary, the Kunstkammer in St. Petersberg, arts managers in Tbilisi, Georgia, the Jewish Museum (NYC), and the Queens Botanical Garden.”
According to her father’s obituary in the Hartford Courant, he was a colonel in World War II and was the “president of American Standard Products, Inc. an award winning Hartford Manufacturer of precision parts for the aerospace industry.” The tribute adds that thanks to his work, he and his wife, Eunice Holzman Fearer, lived all across Europe at some point. They were also avid art collectors.
2. Safer Proposed to His Wife Over the Phone While He Was Covering the 1968 Nigerian Civil War
The couple met in England on July 4, 1968. Safer told C-SPAN in 2012 interview that he was stationed there for CBS at the time. He had been out to dinner with Walter Cronkite and his wife, Betsy. They were then invited to a party being hosted by an American man and his British wife. His future wife was a cousin of the family throwing the party.
She seemed pretty bright and she was very beautiful and I said “Hey, you want to have dinner?” I said, “You want to have dinner with Walter Cronkite?”
She said, “Who’s Walter Cronkite?” I said – and she – my wife; she’s an anthropologist and she spent a couple of years living with – in a tribe of Indians in Colombia, so she really wasn’t clued into what was on television and all that.
The couple were married on October 28 of 1968. A People Magazine feature from 1979 says that Safer proposed over the phone while he was in Nigeria covering the civil war.
3. The Couple’s Daughter Is a Brown Graduate & ‘Had a Very Brief Career in Journalism’
People Magazine reported in 1979 that Safer and Fearer had one daughter, Sarah, together. The legendary journalist admitted in his C-SPAN interview that he doesn’t believe he was a good father. He adds that his daughter is married with two twin girls and a son. He added that his marks as a grandfather were “very low.”
Sarah Safer married investment banker Alexander Bakal in Italy in 2000, according to the New York Time wedding announcement. The announcement says that Sarah Safer is a graduate of both Brown University and Columbia University with qualifications in journalism. Her father told C-SPAN in 2012 that his daughter, “had a very brief career in journalism and still may have another career in it.”
The amount that Safer traveled and the burdens that placed upon his wife and child were a heavy them on his 1979 People Magazine feature.
Sarah Safer’s husband is the owner of Orion Partners in New York City, according to his LinkedIn page.
4. Safer Said That His Wife Didn’t Like to Accompany Him to Political Party Conventions
In the above interview, you can see Safer speaking with C-SPAN’s Brian Lamb about going with his wife to political conventions. He tells Lamb:
Without giving away anything politically about my family or my wife or any of that, when we’re watching the conventions; when we’re watching the conventions, my wife – at one of the conventions – “I don’t want to hear this, I don’t want to hear this.” I said “No! You’ve got to hear it.”
Safer goes on to talk about his belief that you have to listen to the “other side” or else you start “becoming like them.”
5. The Couple Lived Together In New York City While He Maintained His Canadian Citizenship
Safer’s family emigrated from Europe in 1912. His father was a native of Austria and his mother from England. The couple had three children. They settled in Toronto and throughout his life, Safer maintained his Canadian citizenship.
He spoke about his Canadian citizenship to People in 1979 saying, “I really feel stateless. Which is not bad because I always felt a man without a country was not encumbered by narrow loyalties.: