Sanford “Sandy” Socolow, described as Walter Cronkite’s “right hand” at CBS during some of the biggest news stories of the 1960s and ’70s, including the space launches, Vietnam War and Watergate, died Saturday, January 31, at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York from complications of a long illness. He was 86.

Socolow began working with Cronkite in the mid-1950s, shortly after joining CBS as a writer for the morning news. He segued from that role into writing for a midday news program fronted by the up-and-coming Cronkite. A lifelong relationship began between the two, both of whom had been foreign correspondents for news services, Cronkite for United Press and Socolow for International News Service. In 1958, Socolow and Cronkite bonded as the writer and reporter for the weekly CBS primetime news program Eyewitness To History, a venture that took them around the world to report on big events.

Socolow held several positions during the Cronkite era — co-producer and executive producer of the CBS Evening News With Walter Cronkite, vice president of CBS News, in which he supervised all hard news programming, and Washington bureau chief. When Cronkite retired in 1988, Socolow remained in charge of the CBS Evening News With Dan Rather for nine months before being moved to London to become executive producer, bureau chief, where he was overseeing all the news gathering in Europe and the Middle East. In 1984 he returned stateside and joined 60 Minutes, producing stories for, among others, Morley Safer, Diane Sawyer and Harry Reasoner.

He left CBS in 1988 and for a few years, was the executive producer of  World Monitor, the Christian Science Monitor’s nightly newscast on the Discovery Channel. Cronkite then named his friend executive producer of the company he formed in 1993, Cronkite-Ward Productions, which produced many award-winning hours for Discovery and PBS. Socolow was one of the featured speakers at the family’s funeral for the newsman in New York’s St. Bartholomew’s Church in 2009.