‘Washington Post’ Pressroom Strikebuster Pendergast Dead at 79

By: E&P Staff

Beverly “Penny” Lester Pendergast, former pressroom superintendent and assistant production manager of The Washington Post, died June 17 at his home in Port Orange, Fla. He was 79 and had been retired since 1986.

Pendergast found work in the Post pressroom in 1950 and stayed for more than 30 years, rising to general foreman in 1973 and seeing that the paper was printed during a bitter pressmen’s strike begun in late 1975 and that included damage to the printing equipment, which the Post estimated at $270,000. During the four-month strike, Pendergast helped train replacement workers. Union pressmen were not re-hired, and members of other unions returned to work.

Among those hired in 1976 was current Production Vice President James W. Coley, who told Post staff writer Emma Brown that Pendergast “meant a lot to the newspaper at a really tough time.”

Threatened by strikers who saw him as a traitor, Pendergast traveled by helicopter to the Post, where he often slept and ate. Guards were assigned to protect his family in suburban Virginia.

Brown quotes Washington Post Co. Chairman Donald Graham (assistant general manager during the strike) calling Pendergast “one of the bravest people who ever worked at the Post and a great, great pressman.”

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