Veteran ‘Mercury News’ Reporter Cathie Calvert Dies at 74

By: E&P Staff

Veteran San Jose Mercury News reporter Cathie Calvert died May 17. She was 74.

Graduating with a journalism degree from San Jose State College, Calvert went to work as society editor for the nearby and now defunct Sunnyvale Daily Standard. She joined the then-afternoon Mercury News 13 years later, in 1970.

In an appreciation that appeared in the Mercury News, Calvert’s daughter Cathy Hjelt told reporter Linda Zavoral that her mother got the news bug while quite young, having written for or edited papers at all her schools, including grammar school.

Reporting breaking news until 1996, when she retired in 1996 to care for her mother Calvert wrote about everything from elections to earthquakes, including the 1989’s Loma Prieta quake, coverage of which won the Mercury News staff a Pulitzer Prize.

During one bad flood, a colleague told Zavoral, Calvert had to forgo wading or driving, instead catching a ride on a rescue boat until the only way to reach residents still at their homes was to swim, hoping not to be swept into one of the opened sewers the police had warned her about.

Hjelt related an earlier episode of the same tenacity, when her mother, still in eighth grade, wouldn’t leave Ty Cobb’s house in Atherton until the famed ball player agreed to an interview that became part of a series for her school’s paper.”

Political reporter Ken McLaughlin is quoted calling Calvert “an aggressive reporter when she needed to be, and… able to play that telephone on deadline like a Stradivarius – better than any reporter I’ve met. But off deadline she was one of the sweetest people in the world.”

Calvert’s career corresponded to changes in the assignment of female reporters, and Zavoral noted that younger women staffers recalled the assistance rendered by Calvers and her colleagues.

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