Ex-AP reporter, bureau chief Whiting dies at 78

AP News
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Posted: Mar 30, 2011 11:29 PM
Ex-AP reporter, bureau chief Whiting dies at 78

Kenneth Lawrence Whiting, a reporter and bureau chief for The Associated Press who covered civil strife and apartheid in Africa and southeast Asia's economic transformation during overseas assignments spanning more than three decades, has died. He was 78, his wife said Wednesday.

Whiting was surrounded by his spouse and children when he died of complications from a liver ailment at his home in Chatham on Sunday, Holly Whiting said.

Whiting began his career as a cub reporter for the Lynn Item in Massachusetts. He graduated from Boston University and got his first assignment with the AP in Camden, Maine. He later worked in Chicago and New York before heading overseas.

"As AP West African correspondent, Ken traveled the continent's coast covering revolutions and civil wars in the tumultuous nations of Ghana, Ivory Coast, Liberia and the Congo, as well as Nigeria," according to an obituary provided by the family. "He then spent a year writing human interest features for the AP Saigon bureau during the U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War."

Whiting worked as AP's bureau chief for Southern Africa in Johannesburg for seven years during the apartheid era. He traveled to Cape Town to cover the world's first successful heart transplant by Dr. Christiaan Barnard.

The family moved to Singapore in 1974, when Whiting was made AP's bureau chief for Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Borneo. They remained there for 25 years.

Whiting retired to Chatham in 2000 and remained an avid news consumer who retained his journalistic instincts after a 44-year career with the AP, his wife said.

"He was a consummate newsman" even after he retired, his wife said. "You'd ask him for his opinion ... and he would say, `I don't opine, I just report things.'

"Our kids had to be quiet whenever news was on the radio wherever we were in South Africa or wherever. He would say: `Newsman's household, the news is on,'" Holly Whiting said with a laugh.

Whiting is survived by his wife, son, daughter and five grandsons.

The family plans private cremation and memorial services. No date has been set.

"He was a quiet man with a sense of humor, a great storyteller and a great father," his wife said.