Fran Schneidau, respected Connecticut radio reporter, dies at 79
Fran Schneidau, respected Connecticut radio reporter, dies at 79.
Fran Schneidau, who was known for her distinctive voice, wit and fair and accurate reporting for WCBS Newsradio 880 for 39 years, died in Southbury, CT on December 26, 2017. Her death was announced by the New York-based station and confirmed by her daughter, Virginia L. Hostetter. The cause was cardiac arrest.
Once a stockbroker on Wall Street, Mrs. Schneidau began her radio career in 1973 at WICC 600 in Bridgeport where she became the first female reporter and news anchor. In 1977, news director Lou Adler hired her as a reporter at WCBS to cover the Connecticut-Westchester market. Later, she became Connecticut bureau chief.
Her voice was often heard live covering the 1981 trial of Jean Harris, accused of killing her lover and Scarsdale Diet Doctor Herman Tarnower and the 2002 trial of Kennedy cousin Michael Skakel, accused of murdering Martha Moxley, a 15 year old Greenwich, CT neighbor in 1975. Vanity Fair columnist, Dominick Dunne, would telephone her nightly to review the courtroom events of the day.
While courtroom drama of the rich and famous was scintillating, Mrs. Schneidau was highly respected for her local issues and political reporting. Upon her retirement last year, Democratic Governor Dannel P. Malloy proclaimed February 3 “Fran Schneidau Day” in Connecticut.
“For nearly 40 years, Fran’s voice was heard delivering news from the state of Connecticut to millions of radio listeners throughout the greater New York City metropolitan area, and she did it with class, reputability, and her own trusted style,” Malloy said in a statement the day after her death.
“She dedicated her profession to journalism, and was respected by so many — including numerous young and upcoming reporters who consistently cited her as an inspiration,” he said.
Frances Crane Colt was born April 20, 1938 in Pittsfield, MA, the third of six children of Zenas Crane Colt and Cynthia Means Colt and is a direct descendant to the founder of Crane & Co., makers of fine stationery and supplier to currency paper to the U.S. Treasury Department.
Her childhood was spent in Dalton, MA where at age three she learned to ride when her father, an Army Intelligence Officer stationed at Fort Riley, KS sent her a pony. During her teenage years, she participated in the annual 100-mile trail ride at the Green Mountain Horse Association in Woodstock, VT. She attended Miss Hall’s School in Pittsfield, MA and graduated The Foxhollow School in Lenox, MA in 1956.
At age 19, she married Theodore LaRue Lutkins, Jr., an investment banker of Towners, NY who died in 1970, a few years after they were divorced. Together, they had three children.
In 1968, she married the late Dr. Peter B. Schneidau, originally of Buffalo, NY. The two divorced, but remained lifelong friends.
Mrs. Schneidau was a member of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and The Squadron A Club in New York City. She was known for her infectious laugh, charisma and wonderful sense of humor and was a lover and defender of all animals. For most of her life she lived in Darien, CT. She also lived in New Canaan, CT.
She is predeceased by her sisters, Marjory C. Kirk and Joanne C. McGowan and her brother, Charles C. Colt. She is survived by her children, Cynthia M.L. Ripperger of Matthews, NC; Virginia L. Hostetter of Westport, CT and Marshall C. Lutkins of Newtown, PA; her brothers Zenas M.C. Colt of Wakefield, RI and William W. Colt of Monroe, NC as well as three grandchildren, Charles M. Ripperger, Stephanie L. Lutkins and Daniel P. Lutkins.
A Memorial Service will be announced at a later date.
Donations may be made to CT Humane Society.