Don Farmer, former WSB-TV and CNN anchor, has died (1938-2021)

He was an original CNN anchor when the network launched in 1980
Don Farmer was a WSB-TV anchor in the 1980s into the early 1990s. (Special to the AJC)

Credit: AJC

Credit: AJC

Don Farmer was a WSB-TV anchor in the 1980s into the early 1990s. (Special to the AJC)

Don Farmer, one of CNN’s original on-air anchors who later worked at WSB-TV, died Tuesday in Naples, Florida. He was 82.

The family in the official obituary said no public services have been announced. His wife Chris Curle said he died from complications related to progressive supranuclear palsy, a rare neurological brain disorder.

Farmer was married for 49 years to Curle who he met while working at ABC News.

They left ABC News together in 1980 to join Ted Turner’s brand new satellite-driven, all-news cable network CNN. They hosted the network’s first noon-time show together called “Take Two.” It was more personality-driven and more conversational than the other programs at launch and featured interviews.

Flip Spiceland, an original meteorologist for CNN, said given their background with network news, Farmer and Curle were held in higher esteem than many other anchors. “Like the rest of us,” he said, “they came to CNN wanting to do something different, work under that charismatic umbrella of Ted Turner and stick a thumb in the eye of the three major networks.”

He said he became quite close to Farmer, who was the best man at Spiceland’s wedding, and recalled the couple holding great parties at their home.

Early on, the couple made headlines by anchoring a week of live news programming from Cuba and interviewed Fidel Castro.

Farmer and Curle worked at CNN for seven years until WSB-TV recruited them as anchors.

“He was a stickler for good writing,” said Monica Pearson, his co-anchor for many years at WSB. “He was very involved in how things were produced. He was a real newsman.”

Greg Stone, WSB-TV general manager in the 1990s called Farmer “a perfectionist in his writing, in his reporting, in his preparation. He was just a pro.”

Farmer retired with Curle in 1997 and moved to Florida to take care of aging parents on Marco Island, where Farmer will be buried.

Retired Channel 2 WSB-TV anchor Don Farmer has written a new thriller, “Deadly News,” with his wife, fellow retired broadcaster Chris Curle.

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Farmer grew up in St. Louis and dreamed of becoming a foreign correspondent. He attended the University of Missouri in Columbia, Missouri, and roomed with Skip Caray, the future Braves broadcaster. After Farmer received his journalism degree, he worked briefly with NBC News but moved to ABC News in 1965 as a correspondent at just age 26.

By 1970, he was the Atlanta bureau chief for ABC News. While covering civil rights unrest in Houston, where Curle was working at a local ABC station, Farmer asked her out with the following line: “Hey, Chris, what are you doing after the riot?” They married two years later. In the 1970s, he worked in London and Germany for ABC News.

Over the years, he interviewed presidents, despots, civil rights legends like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and all four Beatles. He visited more than 100 countries as a foreign correspondent.

After retirement, he wrote a fiction thriller based loosely on his time in TV news called “Deadly News.” He also wrote columns for a local Naples newspaper and hosted a radio show.

“Dad stayed curious and engaged nearly to the very end,” said his son and current WSB-TV anchor Justin Farmer, in a public social media post Wednesday. “He was born with an abundance of curiosity, integrity and wit. As he got older, he grew sentimental. He’d tear up as fast as Nathan Deal when the conversation turned to people or experiences he loved.”

Current WSB-TV anchor Justin Farmer (right) with his father Don Farmer in 1975, in a photo WSB-TV posted on Facebook in 2014 as a "blast from the past." WSB-TV

Credit: WSB

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Credit: WSB

He is survived by his wife, Chris Curle; his daughter, Laurie, her husband Hal Thannisch and sons Cole and Cade; his son, Justin and wife Allison and children Sarah Kate, James and Wallace; his sister, Judy and her family.

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