Luke, 45, confirmed to the Dallas Morning News that his dad passed away after years of battling Alzheimer’s disease, though an official cause of death has yet to be released.
Known as Bob, the patriarch helped launch journalist Jim Lehrer‘s TV career on the Dallas-Fort Worth area news station KERA-TV in the late 1960s. Wilson conceived the public affairs show Newsroom, which featured Lehrer as the host and ultimately jumpstarted the former newspaperman’s career as an anchor. Wilson was in charge of KERA-TV from 1967 to 1975.
Owen, 48, spoke with the Dallas Morning News in 2015 and addressed his father’s battle with Alzheimer’s. “It is a rough thing,” he said. “It’s one of those things where if somebody had said 10 years ago, when my dad and I were joking around, having a putting match, that this is the position your dad’s going to be in, where he basically needs 24-hour care, you’d think, ‘Gosh, I won’t be able to handle that. That’s just not possible.'”
The Zoolander actor continued, “But it does happen. Such things just happen in life. You just have to do your best to deal with it. You’ve got no choice but to accept it. … For me and my brothers, there just wasn’t a bigger influence on us. Maybe it sounds trite or something, but I really believe that his spirit gets carried on through me, the way I like to joke around.”
Luke told the outlet that anyone who’d like to honor Robert’s memory can make a donation to PBS.