Gregory Katz, Reporter at Home in War or Fashion, Dies at 67 – The New York Times

This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.

Gregory Katz, an omnivorous foreign correspondent who was as much at home in war-torn Kosovo or Iraq as he was at Ascot or a fashion show, died on June 23 at a hospital in London. He was 67.

His wife, Bea Sennewald, said the cause was complications of Covid-19. She said Mr. Katz, the acting London bureau chief of The Associated Press, had surgery for cancer in February, returned to the hospital with complications and contracted the virus there.

Though an editor once threatened to drop a typewriter on his head because he had fumbled the spelling of “commemorate,” Mr. Katz went on to catch not just typos but also some of the most urgent stories of his day.

In 1982, as a 28-year-old reporter for The Boston Herald American, he covered the first trial of Claus von Bulow, who was charged with the attempted murder of his wife, Sunny. He called in his stories from a pay phone in Newport, R.I. It was one of his stories that generated the headline “Maid: Claus Is a Louse.”

As a foreign correspondent for The Dallas Morning News for over a decade, Mr. Katz reported from more than 60 countries. he was part of a team at the newspaper that won the Pulitzer Prize in 1994 for international reporting for a series examining a global epidemic of violence against women.

In 1997, Mr. Katz produced an eight-part series on human trafficking called “People in Motion,” which won the SAIS-Novartis Prize for Excellence in International Journalism the next year. He went to work for The A.P. in 2008 and moved to London.

Gregory Philippe Katz was born on June 7, 1953, in Manhattan and grew up in Westport, Conn. His father, Nathan, was a lawyer who was born in London and raised in New Zealand. His mother, Janine Bollack, an artist, was from Paris.

Gregory graduated from the University of Vermont with a B.A. in religious studies before becoming a reporter, first for The Provincetown Advocate, a weekly, and then for The Cape Cod Times, which sent him to Nicaragua.

His parents divorced and both later remarried. His mother and stepfather had an apartment at the Dakota, the famed co-op on Central Park West that was home to John Lennon, among other celebrities. When Mr. Lennon was shot there, Mr. Katz was thus the only journalist allowed in the building at the time, and he filed an article for Rolling Stone.

He also worked at USA Today, The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel and The Houston Chronicle.

In addition to Ms. Sennewald, an architect, Mr. Katz is survived by their daughter, Sophia; his sister, Toni Drew; and four stepsiblings. His brother, Michael, died in 2009, and his sister, Stephanie, died last year.

Mr. Katz covered the Gulf and Balkan wars, among other conflicts, and most recently he chronicled the agonizing domestic conflict known as Brexit. But he loved fashion and the royal family, and reported on both with gusto.

“Two words made him swoon: royal wedding,” said Sheila Norman-Culp, a senior editor on The A.P.’s Europe and Africa desk.

She added that he planned his coverage of the London fashion shows as if it were a military operation.

He was a bit of a fashion plate himself, with a collection of fedoras and trilbies — Ms. Sennewald counted 18 hats in his closet — and monogrammed, fitted shirts in Gatsby colors. One year he infiltrated the after-party for a Vivienne Westwood fashion show, where he complimented a model who was wearing elaborate headgear. “Nice turban,” he said. “Nice fedora,” she replied.

Mr. Katz was a fast and lively writer, filing early and often as the saying goes. When his stepsister, Barbara Ravage, was working on a book and mired in writer’s block, she asked him what he did when he was stuck.

“There’s no such thing as writer’s block when you’re on a daily,” he told her.


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