- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 4, 2006

NEW YORK (AP) — R.W. Apple Jr., the near-legendary New York Times correspondent who charted the fall of President Nixon and covered wars and revolutions from Vietnam to the Persian Gulf and later became a premiere food and travel writer, died yesterday . He was 71.

Mr. Apple died overnight in Washington after a long bout with thoracic cancer.

His last story, about the food and restaurants of Singapore, appeared in the Sunday newspaper.

“He was himself to the last,” New York Times Executive Editor Bill Keller said in a statement to the staff. “From his sickbed, he hammered out his last words to readers … negotiated details of the menu and music for his memorial service, followed the baseball playoffs and the latest congressional scandal with relish.”

He is survived by his wife Betsey, the former Betsey Pinckney Brown or Richmond, his constant travel companion. Readers always looked to see where Mr. Apple would put his wife in his travel stories.

Mr. Apple joined the Times in 1963 after working for the Wall Street Journal and NBC News. He was the newspaper’s national political correspondent in the 1970s.

He covered the Vietnam and Persian Gulf wars, the Iranian revolution and the collapse of Eastern Bloc governments, and the Watergate scandals.

“It was a tragedy in three acts,” Mr. Apple wrote of Richard Nixon’s resignation in August 1974.

“In 1972, Richard M. Nixon — a man who had often failed, who had been derided by the fashionable and the intellectual, who had made and remade himself into a winner — arrived at the pinnacle of his career,” he wrote. “In 1973, he found himself besieged by his enemies, forced onto the defense. And in 1974, he fell from power, humiliated as no predecessor has ever been.”

In 1992, as President Bush was seeking a second term, Mr. Apple wrote: “But the brakes of history seem to be working against Mr. Bush and his party. … The end of the Cold War has robbed the president’s party of one of its mightiest swords.”

His epicurean side was evident in his many lighter pieces. Known as “Johnny,” Mr. Apple traveled the world as a food and travel writer, writing about everything from hot dogs in Chicago to bacon in Wisconsin.

“Vidalias are to run-of-the-mill onions as foie gras is to chopped liver,” he wrote in a 1998 story. Checking out hot dogs in Chicago, he wrote in 2004: “No place else this side of Frankfurt has a frankfurter stand every three or four blocks, as Chicago does. And no other place anywhere has a catechism of condiments as rigorously defined as Chicago’s. … And no ketchup, please. Ever.”

Drawing on his endless travel experience, he wrote a piece on “The Art of Packing” for the Times in 1985.

Among the rules: no synthetic fabrics “because they are clammy in cold weather, sticky in hot.” And along with packing a miniature tool kit and the small guidebooks, he cited a pepper mill, because “it’s amazing what a few turns of the machine will do for a meal prepared by the culinary wizards employed by the Iraqi Army.”

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