An appreciation: longtime Monitor journalist Guy Halverson

Guy O. Halverson was a Monitor correspondent with a varied writing career that spanned more than 35 years. His award-winning journalism led the way against drunk driving and Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos. Who wants to become a lawyer when you can report on Watergate?

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Guy O. Halverson, who passed on Nov. 29, was a longtime Monitor correspondent who leaves a file of some 2,500 articles written on a vast range of topics over a 35-year career.

His first major success was “Stop the Drunk Driver,” his 10-part series published in 1970. It won an Alfred P. Sloan Award, including a significant cash prize. The foundation honoring him said the series “placed before the American public a state-by-state assessment of one of the grimmest problems facing the nation” and called his articles “a major contribution to public understanding of the problem caused by the drunk driver.”

He spent much of his career doing business and financial reporting, but his great love was politics, his wife, Rosemarie, remembers. “The highlight of his career was covering the Watergate hearings.” During that period, as the nation saw the presidency of Richard Nixon unravel on live television, one of Guy’s particular coups was his interview with Martha Mitchell, the colorful and outspoken wife of President Nixon’s attorney general, John Mitchell.

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As a member of the editorial board in the 1980s, he pushed to keep the Monitor out front on what was then an issue of great import to the United States: the future of US bases in the Philippines and what he came to see as wrongheaded support of the Ferdinand Marcos regime. The Philippine-American writer Peter Bacho, whom Guy cultivated as a Monitor op-ed writer and as a source for the Monitor’s own editorials, remembers Guy’s gracious manner, soothing voice on the phone (they never actually met face to face), and subtle sense of humor. “The Monitor was one of the few national publications to support [opposition leader] Aquino against Marcos,” Mr. Bacho recalls. "And I like to think that we helped sway opinion, especially in the White House and in Congress.”

A native of Seattle, Guy Halverson graduated from Lincoln High School and then earned his bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington. He spent a year at law school before going into the US Army. He was proud of his service, which included three years on the Japanese island of Okinawa, where he did intelligence work during the Vietnam War.

He had intended to become a lawyer, but the Army gave him the assignment of writing a two-volume history of his post. That set him off on another career track. After his military service, he earned a master’s degree in communications, and began his newspaper career. After some time at The Wall Street Journal, he joined The Christian Science Monitor in 1968.

He was very proud, Rosemarie recalls, of the fact that he made his way onto the staff of two great newspapers on his own merits, with no personal connections.

After an initial stint in Boston, he was posted to Chicago, from which he covered a 14-state territory as the Monitor’s Midwestern bureau chief. Then came postings to New York, Washington, Boston, and finally New York again. One of his last assignments before retirement in 2002 was the Q&A column, which provided quick answers to readers’ specific questions about their finances. The questions often arose from difficult life situations, but Guy always responded with the compassion and concern for the individual that were the hallmark of the Halverson approach to journalism.

Ruth Walker, former deputy editor and current columnist at the Monitor, served with Guy Halverson on the editorial page in the 1980s.

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