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Graham B. Hovey (1916-2010)

PENNSYLVANIA - Graham B. Hovey, Cedar Falls native, died Saturday, Feb. 20, in Luther Crest Retirement Community, Allentown, Pa.

He began his career in journalism as a reporter for the Waterloo Courier in 1938, after graduating from the University of Minnesota. It was the start of a career that would take him abroad as a war and foreign correspondent, to Washington for two hitches as a foreign-affairs reporter and to a twelve-year term as a member of the editorial board of The New York Times.

It was also a career that included intervals as a journalism professor at the Universities of Minnesota and Wisconsin and six years as professor of communication at the University of Michigan and director of the Michigan Journalism Fellows program that provides a mid-career academic year for journalists.

Although he spent most of his professional life covering U.S. foreign policy, as reporter, editorial writer or public radio commentator, Hovey once summed up his career in journalism by saying he had covered "fires and floods, funerals and football, the jail house and the White House, a World Series and a World War."

In fact, only three months after leaving the Courier in 1940 to join International News Service (I.N.S.), Hovey was covering the World Series between the Detroit Tigers and the Cincinnati Reds. The next year he was reunited briefly with his Courier colleague, Gene Thorne, while covering the National Football League championship game between the Chicago Bears and the New York Giants in Wrigley Field, Chicago, two weeks after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor had plunged the United States into World War II.

But in May of 1942 Hovey left sports behind as I.N.S. sent him to Africa to help report World War II. He covered such events as the Battle of Kasserine Pass, the seizure of strategic Hill 609 in Tunisia by an Iowa 34th division infantry company, led by Captain Harold E. Doyle of Waterloo, and the consequent German surrender in Africa, May 9, 1943. Later, in Italy, Hovey covered the siege at Cassino, the breakout from the Anzio beachhead and the liberation of Rome on June 4, 1944, the first enemy capital taken by the Allies. In France, after the Riviera invasion in August, 1944, Hovey and four colleagues took a jeep into what was still "no-man's land," lived with French underground forces for a week and broke the first stories on the senseless destruction of the tiny French village of Oradour-sur-Glane and the slaughter of all its men, women and children by the German S.S. division called "Das Reich." It was an incident that would bring an historic war crimes trial after the war and would embarrass President Ronald Reagan who, during a state visit to Germany, laid a wreath at the cemetery where Das Reich troops are buried. Hovey regarded it as his most significant story in two-and-a-half years of war reporting.

November, 1944, Hovey left I.N.S. to become a foreign-affairs reporter for the Associated Press in Washington. Two years later he joined the New Republic magazine as an assistant editor for foreign affairs. But in 1947, he changed course and returned to the University of Minnesota to teach journalism and pursue an M.A. in political science and history. He also became a radio commentator on the university station KUOM, and a guest commentator on the CBS station, WCCO.

In 1949, Hovey joined the University of Wisconsin journalism faculty, where he eventually became an associate professor, and broadcast a weekly radio commentary, "The Background of the News" for the University station WHA and the 10-station Wisconsin State Broadcasting Service. In 1953, he was awarded a Fulbright research grant in Italy, accredited to Radiotelevisione Italiana, and for the next two years broadcast a weekly "Letter from Italy" for American public radio stations. He also wrote editorial articles from Italy for the Washington Star and the Milwaukee Journal.

The Hoveys returned to Wisconsin for the 1955-56 academic year, then Graham joined the editorial staff of the Minneapolis Star and Tribune. He also covered the United Nations during Cold War crises and won the Overseas Press Club of America award in 1958 for "Best American Press Interpretation of Foreign Affairs." He also shared a National Headliners Club award for his U.N. reporting that year.

In January 1959, Hovey moved to London as the first European Correspondent for the Star and Tribune and spent nearly seven years covering Europe, East and West, for both the news pages and editorial sections. His editorial columns from Europe were often published also by the Des Moines Register and Tribune.

Then in 1965, Hovey accepted an invitation from John B. Oakes to join the editorial board of The New York Times. For the next 12 years, Hovey wrote many of the Times's editorials on Europe, Africa and Latin America and traveled abroad every year to update himself on his areas of responsibility. When Oakes retired at the end of 1976, Hovey moved back to Washington to cover foreign affairs until he retired from The Times in 1980 to join the University of Michigan faculty and direct the Michigan Journalism Fellows program. After his retirement in 1986, Hovey continued, as professor emeritus, to teach a first-year seminar called "The Making of U.S. Foreign Policy." In 1998, he and his wife moved from Ann Arbor to the Luther Crest retirement community in Allentown, PA, to be nearer to their son and his family in Forty Fort, Pa.

Among the many awards that Mr. Hovey received are: Outstanding Achievement Award from the University of Minnesota 1985; Award for Distinguished Service in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin, 1978; Alumni Achievement Award from the University of Northern Iowa, 1981. He was inducted to the Minnesota Daily Hall of Distinction, 1999.

Graham Hovey was born in Cedar Falls, January 18, 1916, to Leroy Dana and Lois Graham Hovey. He was graduated in 1933 from Cedar Falls High School, and attended Iowa State Teachers College (now the University of Northern Iowa), where he won letters as a member of three conference championship track teams. Then he transferred to the University of Minnesota, where he took his B.A. in journalism in 1938 and an M.A. in political science and history in 1953.

He was married to Mary Jean Landgraf in Waterloo June 20, 1941. She survives along with their son, Thomas D. Hovey, his wife Barbara A. of Forty Fort, Pa.; three grandchildren, Attorney Matthew T. Hovey, Pottstown, Pa., Carolyn B. Hovey and David L. Hovey, both of Forty Fort, and Mary Jean's sister, Mrs. Charles H. Dalton, Waterloo. Also surviving are two nieces, Marjorie Eger, Indiana and Lois Schmoe, Florida.

Services: Private at the convenience of the family. Arrangements by Stephens Funeral Home, Inc. Please share on-line condolences at

Contributions: In lieu of flowers to Landgraf-Hovey Scholarship, University of Northern Iowa Foundation, 205 Commons, Cedar Falls, Iowa 50614 or Cedar Falls Municipal Band, P.O. Box 144, Cedar Falls, Iowa 50613.

the life of: Graham B. Hovey (1916-2010)
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