- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 3, 2005

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Robert Morrisey, whose love of wine was initiated by his doctor’s advice and grew into a passion that inspired him to create the Wine Spectator publication, died March 26 of congestive heart failure, his daughter said. He was 78.

Mr. Morrisey was also a retired Marine Corps major and one-time wine columnist for the San Diego Evening Tribune, which became the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Mr. Morrisey was a casual drinker of gin martinis in the late 1960s when his doctor suggested he switch to wine for health reasons.

The popular response to his newspaper columns of the early 1970s led him to create a 12-page tabloid newsletter in 1976, the Wine Spectator, which went on to become America’s top-selling wine publication.

The biweekly tabloid had an inaugural print run of 3,000 copies, which Mr. Morrisey and his wife, Mary Jane, distributed by hand.

Now a monthly, glossy magazine, the Wine Spectator has a circulation of 400,000.

Born in Wheeling, W.Va., Mr. Morrisey grew up in Joliet, Ill. At 17, he enlisted in the Marines and served with the 3rd Marine Division in the Pacific during World War II. After the war, he returned to Joliet, and became editor of the city’s weekly newspaper, the Spectator.

Called to active duty during the Korean War, he served as a combat correspondent and public information officer. He retired from active duty in December 1967 and joined Teledyne Ryan Aeronautical in San Diego as chief of its news bureau. He left Teledyne in 1977 and started his own public relations firm.

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