DALLAS (AP) — James W. Mangan, whose 36-year career with The Associated Press included covering President John F. Kennedy's assassination and getting an exclusive interview with a former Texas election judge who said he certified enough fictitious ballots to steal a 1948 primary runoff election for the U.S. Senate for Lyndon B. Johnson, has died. Mangan, who spent the last decade of his AP career as vice president in charge of membership, was 87.
Andrew Mangan said his father died of a heart ailment Friday while playing tennis in San Antonio.
"If you look at his career history, AP tossed a lot of different challenges to Jim. He did well in every one of them," said Louis D. Boccardi, former AP president and CEO.
James Mangan started with AP in San Francisco in 1952 and went to work at the World Services operation in New York in 1954. He went to Dallas as assistant bureau chief in 1963 and was among those who covered the Kennedy assassination. In 1965 he became the bureau chief in New Orleans before returning to Dallas, where he served as bureau chief from 1969-1977. He moved to Europe in 1977 to head AP's operations in Germany, Switzerland and Eastern Europe.
Upon returning to the U.S., he served as a vice president in charge of membership in New York City from 1978 until his retirement on Jan. 1, 1989.
"He rose to the top revenue position in AP as a corporate vice president, but his heart never left the newsroom. He was also indispensable as a mentor to many future AP reporters and managers," said John O. Lumpkin, the AP's former vice president for newspaper markets and a former Dallas chief of bureau.
Boccardi said Mangan took the helm in dealing with members at a transitional time in the company.
"It was a period where UPI (United Press International) was going to make it or not make it. It was a time when the newspapers began to feel financial pressures," he said, adding, "It was also a time when we had to develop whole new ways of doing things within AP and his job was to be sort of the ambassador to the membership about the changes we were making."
"He carried it out wonderfully," Boccardi said.
Mangan's 1977 story on the LBJ election came after he got an exclusive interview with Luis Salas, the election judge for Jim Wells County's Box 13, which produced enough votes in the 1948 Texas Democratic primary run-off to give Johnson the nomination to the U.S. Senate. Salas is quoted in Mangan's story saying, "Johnson did not win that election; it was stolen for him. And I know exactly how it was done."
Andrew Mangan said his father had pursued the election judge for several years, all while performing his administrative duties as bureau chief.
As assistant bureau chief in Dallas in 1963, his father was among reporters waiting for the arrival of Kennedy at the Trade Mart following the motorcade procession downtown, Andrew Mangan said. He said his father knew something was wrong when he heard police radio traffic "going crazy," then saw police speeding away.
James Mangan then went into the bureau, filing to the wire continually for thirteen hours after the president's assassination.
Mangan was born on July 25, 1928, in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, growing up there and in Binghamton, New York. After high school, he joined the Army and served in Italy following World War II. He then returned to the U.S. and graduated from Columbia University in New York.
His survived by his wife, Bev, and sons Andrew, Charles and Peter.