William Lewis Safire, 1929 - 2009

portrait of William Safire
President Bush giving 2006 Presidential Medal of Freedom. White House photo by Shealah Craighead (15 December 2006)

Born: 17 December 1929, New York City
Died: 27 September 2009, Rockville, Maryland

Safire graduated from Bronx High School of Science, attended Syracuse University for two years. Despite dropping out, he delivered the commencement address there in 1978 and 1990 and became a trustee. He worked with a producer of radio and television shows, was a correspondent for WNBC-TV in Europe and the Middle East, and served in the Army from 1952 to 1954, including reporting for Armed Forces Network. While working in public relations he organized a display of American home products at Moscow in 1959, then maneuvered Richard Nixon and Nikita Krushchev into the "kitchen debate" in a kitchen setup by his client. He operated his own PR agency from 1961 to 1968 when he went to work in the Nixon White House, writing speeches for Nixon and Spiro Agnew. After Watergate he became a political columnist for the New York Times, writing twice a week until 2005. From 1979 through the month of his death he wrote "On Language" for the New York Times Magazine. (See The Fumblerules of William Safire) He wrote four novels, several political works, a number of significant works on language, and a long list of volumes compiled from his columns. Safire died from pancreatic cancer at a hospice, aged 79.

Biography from Wikipedia and New York Times obituary

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