On December 1, 2004 Tom Brokaw delivered his last broadcast as anchorman for the NBC "Nightly News with Tom Brokaw". He retired at age 64, when he was one year younger than his famous fellow Dutch American anchorman, Walter Cronkite, upon his retirement when Walter was 65 years old. During Tom Brokaw's anchorman career at NBC his evening newscast became the most watched evening newscast in the country.
Tom Brokaw was born in Webster, South Dakota on February 6, 1940. He went to Yankton, South Dakota High School. Brokaw started his college career at the University of Iowa. He stayed for a year but then transferred to the University of South Dakota where he majored in political science. During his college years he already entered the field of journalism by being a radio reporter from 1959 to 1962. Following graduation he began his television career at KTIV in Sioux City, Iowa, but quickly switched to KMTV in Omaha, Nebraska, a station serving a larger market.
In 1965 he became the anchorman of the late evening news on WSB-TV in Atlanta, Georgia. The following year he joined NBC News, reporting from Los Angeles and serving as anchorman for KNBC in Los Angeles.
From 1973 to 1976 Brokaw was the NBC News White House Correspondent. During that time he covered the Watergate scandal. In 1976 Brokaw became the NBC Today Show Host. He stayed on the Today Show until 1983 when he was selected to become the NBC Evening News anchor. He continued in that position until 2004 when he retired from the prestigious anchorman position. He continues on contract with NBC to do special programs until 2014.
During his years as anchorman he also did quite a bit of reporting. In 1987 he was the first American reporter to have a one-on-one interview with Mikhail Gorbachev. In that year he also won the DuPont-Columbia University Award. In 1989 he reported on the fall of the Berlin Wall. Also in 1995 Brokaw reported from Oklahoma City on the Federal Building bombing.
Brokaw always wanted to do more writing. To be sure, he wrote many news columns for such well known publications as The New York Times, The Washington Post, Newsweek, and Life magazines. In terms of books he did write "The Arms, the Men, the Money", an investigation of the Contra rebels. In 1998 his book "The Greatest Generation" was released. The book was dedicated to the Americans who were raised during the Great Depression, fought in World War II, and built the America we know today. Because of the success of the "Greatest Generation" book he wrote a follow up, "The Greatest Generation Speaks" which was published in 1999. Basking in the glow of being successful as an author, he published "An Album of Memories" in 2001. In 2002 he also published "A Long Way from Home, Growing Up in the American Heartland".
Tom Brokaw has won many journalistic awards during his illustrious journalistic career. Among others he has won the Peabody Award, two DuPont Awards, plus nine Emmy Awards. In 1997 he was inducted in the Television Academy Hall of Fame. And in 2005 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Tom Brokaw's parents were Anthony and Jean Brokaw, who raised three sons, Tom and his two brothers. Tom has been married for over 40 years. The couple has three daughters named Jennifer, Andrea and Sarah.
Tom Brokaw's Dutch ancestry is well established. He was honored by the prestigious Holland Society in 2005 as one of the famous offspring of the early Dutch settlers of New Amsterdam and New Netherland. His ancestors apparently came from northern France and/or Belgium. During the Reformation the original Brokaws were Huguenots, adherents to Calvin, who moved to Holland after they were persecuted in France. The family lived in Amsterdam for a few years before immigrating to New Amsterdam or New Netherland where they settled during the seventeenth century. The search for the original Brokaws has been quite a challenge for many of the Brokaw offspring. The reason it has been so difficult is because of the different spellings of the names that eventually became Brokaw.
An article on the Brokaw name by Dennis Brokaw sheds some light on Tom Brokaw's possible interest in writing a book such as the "Greatest Generation". Is there a possible reflection on the travails of his ancestors? What follows is a direct quote from the Dennis Brokaw article. The apparent name of the original Bokaw was Broucard.
"The descendants of Bourgon Broucard are legion and from the original places of settlement here in America, they have spread all over the country. Ever westward they moved and carried the frontier with them, or followed closely behind. They carried barriers of Faith, Truth and Industry wherever they went. In every War, from the first in 1776, to the latest wars, there have been many soldiers defending their country and its honor. Few have attained wealth or fame, as the world defines it, but the vast majority were men that farmed, the backbone of the nation, tradesmen, businessmen, teachers, etc. and numerous ministers of the gospel. Our Heritage indeed is great and for this we are truly thankful".
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“DUTCH AMERICAN ACHIEVERS: ARTS, SCIENCE AND SPORTS”, 2012
“PROMINENT DUTCH AMERICAN ACHIEVERS: GOVERNMENT, MILITARY, HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY”, 2012.
“EIGHT PROMINENT DUTCH AMERICAN FAMILIES: THE ROOSEVELTS, VANDERBILTS AND OTHERS”, 2015
“FIFTEEN PROMINENT DUTCH AMERICAN FAMILIES: THE VAN BURENS, KOCH BROTHERS, VOORHEES AND OTHERS, 2015.
“PROMINENT DUTCH AMERICANS IN U.S. GOVERNMENT LEADERSHIP POSITIONS, 2015.