Former Times foreign desk editor Gus Constantine dies

Gus Constantine, a longtime editor in The Washington Times newsroom whose passion for knowledge was matched only by his love for family, died Jan. 29. He was 84.

Originally a history major, Mr. Constantine joined The Times when it opened in 1982, and worked as an editor on the foreign desk until 2008. In his nearly three decades at the paper, he came to be known as a dedicated and tenacious editor with an encyclopedic knowledge of history and the world.

“People sometimes ask how we ever did our jobs before Google,” said David Jones, an editor with Voice of America and a former managing editor at The Washington Times. “Well, we had Gus.”

Mr. Constantine was born Jan. 24, 1929, in New York City, the only child of Dimitri and Elpinikie Constantine. He was drafted into the military on Jan. 10, 1951, during the Korean War, but was discharged honorably as a private in the Marine Corps on Dec. 12, 1951, so that he could be by his dying mother’s bedside.

Mr. Constantine enrolled at Columbia University in New York, originally focused on pursuing a major in history, but instead was drawn to journalism.

“He used to listen to his father talk about politics, and it intrigued him enough to want to become a journalist,” said son Jason Constantine.

Mr. Constantine worked at The New York Daily News before moving to the District, where he got a job at The Washington Star. He worked there until the paper folded in 1981. A year later, he joined The Times.

“He was a true journalist, passionate about building understanding in America about the wide world ‘out there,’” said Josette Sheeran, vice chairwoman of the World Economic Forum, and a former managing editor at The Washington Times. “He always wanted the story to just reveal the facts, as directly as possible. No doubt his skilled editing helped build a bridge to the world for many.”

Wesley Pruden, editor emeritus of The Times, said Mr. Constantine’s efforts to “let the facts speak for themselves” proved his ability to put aside his biases and prejudices.

Gus was one of the last of the old-time newspapermen, who knew why people trusted newspapers to tell them what was what,” Mr. Pruden said. “He worked hard to preserve that trust. His enthusiasm for his craft was an inspiration to all of us.”

Along with his sense of truthfulness, colleagues said Mr. Constantine also held education in high esteem.

Gus was a historian at heart,” Mr. Jones said. “He was very knowledgeable about many different parts of the world.”

Outside of the newsroom, Mr. Constantine was a family man. He was the father of three children, Jason, 34; Richard, 36; and Kimberly, 32. He also is survived by seven grandchildren.

What Jason Constantine remembers most about his father are the routines — whether it was swimming laps at the pool or sitting down to breakfast in the morning.

“He was always watching the news to stay current,” he said. “He’d wake up at 9 a.m., pour a cup of coffee, sit down and read the newspaper. That was his beginning of the day, and he did that faithfully.”

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