Deceased April 17, 2018
Richard “Dick” Blystone, a longtime AP and CNN correspondent who covered the Civil Rights movement, the Vietnam war and myriad other news stories around the world, died in London April 17 of cardiac failure following a stroke. He was 81.
In a possibly unprecedented tribute, CNN produced a five-minute mini-anthology of his work, anointing him as “the poet laureate of network news.”
It was my good fortune to work at various times with Dick during his 15 years at AP, until he joined CNN in 1980, three weeks before the network went on the air. He covered plague and pestilence, politics and diplomacy, disasters and human triumph over adversity but was especially well known for his wry commentaries on the human condition and his eye for the telling detail that explained and illuminated complex issues.
And sometimes he went beyond the story.
After the fall of Phnom Penh to Pol Pot’s murderous Khmer Rouge, Bly flew in a chartered plane to the city’s deserted airport to rescue a Cambodian AP staffer and his family, pulling them into the moving aircraft as it revved up to take off from the shell-cratered runway.
A native of Elmira, N.Y., Bly graduated from the Loomis School and was a member of Theta Delta Chi at Amherst, where he ran cross-country and track.
He also served as art editor of the Amherst Student and frequently contributed mordantly witty cartoons. After Amherst, he served in the Navy on anti-submarine patrol planes. Later, after a stint as AP bureau chief in Bangkok, he was an Edward R. Murrow fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.
Together with his wife, Helle, who survives him, he lived in London for three decades. He is also survived by a daughter, Julia, aka “Titi,” and two sons, John and Daniel.
Claude E. Erbsen ’59