Longtime radio journalist and KZSU alum Robert J. “Bob” Fuss ’74 died of leukemia Sunday, May 27 at his home in Falls Church, VA.
Former CBS News Radio GM Michael Freedman described Fuss as a “reporter’s reporter, a trusted, unselfish and immensely well-liked colleague, but most [importantly], a gentle soul.”
Fuss’ interest in broadcasting started at Stanford after classmate Pete Williams ’74 persuaded him to work for campus radio station KZSU. Because he skipped several grades in elementary school, he started college at age 16 and graduated at age 19. After graduation, he worked for United Press International (UPI) as a freelance reporter, catching his big break after covering the 1974 Patty Hearst kidnapping case.
Fuss joined CBS News Radio in 1998. He played a major role in the company’s award-winning coverage of the Florida recount and subsequent Supreme Court ruling in the 2000 presidential election. Throughout his career in radio reporting, Fuss covered every presidential election from the Reagan-Carter race in 1980 to the 2012 reelection of President Barack Obama as well as 15 straight Academy Awards ceremonies.
Fuss, who was born with a “whole range of birth defects similar to spina bifida,” was told he was unlikely to live past childhood. Although these defects left Fuss walking with crutches his whole life, he still enjoyed outdoor adventures, from whitewater rafting and skiing in Colorado to hiking glaciers and canoeing the waters off Panama.
Fuss’ experiences with his disability inspired the title of his 2014 memoir “Kidnapped by Nuns and Other Stories of a Life on the Radio.” While covering Pope John Paul II’s visit to Mexico in 1979, Fuss was accidentally escorted by a group of well-meaning nuns to the area for disabled people awaiting papal blessing.
“I’ve never thought of myself as a disabled person,” Fuss said in a 2015 CBS Radio interview. “If you were to ask me to describe myself, that word would come way down the list.”
After his retirement in 2014, Fuss continued his pursuit of travel in Hawaii, California, Jamaica and New York. He was honored in 2015 with the Radio-TV Correspondents Association’s Career Achievement Award, recognizing his extensive journalistic work with UPI, NBC Radio and CBS News.
“Covering Congress…is vitally important work,” Fuss said in his address at the 2015 awards ceremony. “To function properly, our democracy depends on voters knowing what their elected leaders are doing for them–in some cases, doing to them.”
He is survived by his mother Carolyn, sister Lorri and nieces and nephews Jeffrey, Jenna, Ilan, Ari and Rina.
Contact Melissa Santos at melissasantos ‘at’ stanford.edu.