May 28 (UPI) -- Former UPI Radio Network reporter Bob Fuss, who joked that he was "kidnapped by nuns" during his time with the agency, died in Falls Church, Va., a friend and former colleague said. He was 64.
Fuss died Sunday, two years after he was diagnosed with leukemia, former CBS News White House correspondent Peter Maer said in an email to colleagues. After his time with UPI, Fuss worked for CBS Radio.
His five-decade career as a journalist began in the 1970s at Stanford University. As a student, he freelanced with UPI, covering the kidnapping of Patty Hearst. He worked for UPI Radio Network in Dallas and New York City before becoming Los Angeles bureau chief until 1991. He covered everything from entertainment (the Academy Awards) to political campaigns.
"He was born with birth defects that left him unable to walk, but became more mobile with crutches than most people with healthy legs," former UPI Radio correspondent and manager Tom Foty said.
"I once dispatched him from Los Angeles to Alaska, when the then new oil pipeline there had a major break. He was on the next available plane .. one of the most energetic, inexhaustible and competent reporters in radio."
After his time with UPI, Fuss worked for CBS Radio, where he remained until his retirement in 2014. He spent 16 years as a Capitol Hill correspondent, covering President Bill Clinton's impeachment, Florida's recount in the 2000 presidential election and the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
"Covering Congress can be challenging and explaining to our listeners and our viewers and our readers what Congress is doing is not always easy," Fuss said in 2015 after winning the Radio-TV Correspondents Association Career Achievement Award. "But I do believe it is vitally important work. To function properly our democracy depends on voters knowing what their elected leaders are doing for them, in some cases doing to them."
After retirement, Fuss wrote in his autobiography -- the aptly named Kidnapped by Nuns And Other Stories of a Life on the Radio -- about how some well-meaning nuns in Mexico escorted him to meet Pope John Paul II while he was covering the pontiff's trip there in 1979. They mistook him for belonging to a group of people with disabilities seeking a blessing from the pope.
Fuss kept his battle with a rare form of leukemia secret from many friends and former colleagues.
"Following the initial diagnosis in February of 2016, Bob did everything in his power to continue his lifelong pursuits of travel and enjoying fine food," Maer said. "In between medical treatments he traveled to Hawaii, California, Jamaica and New York. Always in search of adventure, he snorkeled and soaked up the sun. For many years, we dined together at least once a week, often meeting with former news colleagues."
Fuss is survived by his mother, Carolyn Fuss, sister, Dr. Lorri Hilbert and her husband John Hilbert, nieces and nephews Jeffrey Hilbert, Jenna Anderson (Duncan Anderson), Ilan Fuss (Mikayla Weissman), Ari Breakstone and Rina Breakstone, and friends.
In lieu of flowers, his family is asking for donations in his memory to various organizations, including Ability First, Easter Seals and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.