ROME (Reuters) - Wilton Wynn, one of the deans of foreign correspondents in the post-World War Two era and a towering figure of American journalism in the 20th century, died Thursday. He was 91.
Wynn, who retired in Rome in 1985 after many years as correspondent for Time magazine in the Middle East and Europe, died in hospital of natural causes after a long illness, friends said.
Wynn was born in Arkansas of poor farmers and grew up in Louisiana. For most of his life he spoke with a gentle drawl that endeared him to world leaders as well as colleagues.
An expert on the Middle East and the papacy, Wynn began working for Time in 1962 and covered every major story in the region, including the 1967 Middle East war from the Egyptian side.
He travelled on Anwar Sadat's plane when the Egyptian president made his historic trip to Jerusalem in 1977. Sadat and other Arab leaders such as PLO head Yasser Arafat confided in Wynn and often gave him exclusive stories.
After he moved to back to Rome for Time, Wynn covered the early years of the papacy of Pope John Paul and was once invited to a private dinner at the papal summer residence.
Wynn moved to Egypt when he was 25 to teach English at the American University of Cairo.
He later began his journalism career with the Associated Press in Egypt during the Nasser era and wrote one of the first biographies of the Egyptian leader.
In 2007 Wynn wrote an autobiography "A Typewriter and a Dream," that chronicled his life from a sharecropper's son during The Great Depression to a private dinner guest of presidents and a pope.
He is survived by his Leila, his wife of 64 years.
Both of them were born Protestants but converted to Roman Catholicism in 1987 because of their friendship with Pope John Paul and his spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls.