(AP) Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Philip Geyelin — who is credited with turning The Washington Post editorial page against the Vietnam War — died at his home. He was 80.
His wife of 54 years, Sherry, said Geyelin had been suffering from flu-like symptoms in recent weeks, and that his doctor believes he had a heart attack when he died Friday night.
Geyelin started his career with The Associated Press in the mid-40s and then spent 20 years with The Wall Street Journal before joining the Post in 1967 as deputy editor of the editorial page.
That same year, after editor Russ Wiggins left the paper, Geyelin took over the editorial page. Wiggins and Geyelin had engaged in heated discussions about Vietnam, which Wiggins supported.
Geyelin, a World War II veteran, was staunchly opposed to the Vietnam War. His wife says his stance stemmed from a trip he took to Vietnam in 1966, when he was still with the Journal.
“”When he got there, he could see for himself that things were not as they were reported”” in the media back home, she said.
Washington Post Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt said Saturday that Geyelin was an important part of the newspaper’s history.
“”He was a very sophisticated observer of foreign affairs,”” said Hiatt.
Geyelin won the Pulitzer in 1970 for his anti-war editorials.
In her memoir “”Personal History,”” former Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham wrote about one of her conversations with Geyelin on the war.
“”We agreed that the Post ought to work its way out of the very supportive editorial position it had taken, but that we couldn’t be precipitous,”” she said. “”(Geyelin) used the image that changing our policy was like turning a great vessel around — you first had to slow down before you could start to turn.””
Geyelin left the Post in 1979 and was replaced with Meg Greenfield, a close friend of Graham’s.
Longtime friend and former Washington bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times, Jack Nelson, remembered Geyelin as a soft-spoken and modest man.
“”He knew a lot of people around town and he knew a lot of important people because of the position he held at the Post, but he was never one with real self-importance himself,”” Nelson said.