Ralph Z. Hallow, the longtime chief political correspondent for opinion and columnist for The Washington Times, died Saturday of complications from surgery in Delaware. He was 82.
Mr. Hallow, whose six-decade career included posts on the editorial boards of the Times, the Chicago Tribune and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, was a celebrated fixture on the Washington, D.C., journalism scene, known for his gregarious personality, unstoppable drive and sharp sense of humor.
“Back when I first got here, you didn’t see Ralph when you entered the newsroom. You heard him,” said TWT president Christopher Dolan at the newspaper’s 35th anniversary gala in 2017. “Ralph’s booming voice and colorful language rose above the newsroom’s din as he worked the phone. It was a sight to hear.”
Not everyone appreciated Mr. Hallow’s relentless work ethic and zest for pursuing stories. President George H.W. Bush referred to him as the “horrible fellow” in his taped diaries, and once gave him a fake karate chop as he boarded the plane while covering the 1988 campaign.
“Bush often thought I was hard on him. I presume he thought that was somewhat unfair because The Times — a conservative and Republican newspaper, in his view — should be kind to him,” Hallow wrote in a 2017 column. “I tried not to let him get away with nonsense, pulling the wool over people’s eyes.”
Mr. Hallow’s unmatched coverage of Republican inner workings was recognized by generations of Washington-watchers, including MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow and Politico.
“When it came to Republicans, Ralph not only brought readers into the closed-door meetings, he oftentimes made it into those rooms himself. And even when he didn’t, he knew everything that was going on. I remember hearing a story about a party official who was trying to keep Ralph out, and another official told them to forget about it. Ralph had such good sources that he would know what had happened within two minutes anyway,” said Stephen Dinan, assistant managing editor for politics at The Times.
“There was so much political knowledge in his head, I suspect there were one or two unclaimed Pulitzer prizes just sitting in there,” Mr. Dinan said.
Mr. Hallow cut a lively figure on the social scene as part of a D.C. power couple with his wife Millie Hallow, the former vice chairman of the American Conservative Union Foundation and managing director of executive operations at the National Rifle Association.
Mr. Hallow was present at the creation of the Times, signing on as deputy editorial page editor in April 1982, a month before the newspaper’s launch in May 1982, then moving to cover business before settling in on the national desk..
“His sharp wit, contagious laughter, and world knowledge, was a huge asset to TWT since the day the first paper came off of the press,” said Larry Beasley, CEO of The Washington Times. “Ralph will be sorely missed by his loyal readers, friends, and by me professionally and personally.”
Mr. Hallow served as a Ford Foundation Fellow in Urban Journalism at Northwestern University and resident at the Columbia University Editorial-Page Editors Seminar. His datelines included Berlin, Bonn, London, Paris, Geneva, Vienna, Amman, Beirut, Cairo, Damascus and Jerusalem.
A resident of Crofton, Md., Mr. Hallow grew up in Pittsburgh and studied at the University of Pittsburgh and University of Missouri School of Journalism.