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Ed Koterba

Edward Victor ("Ed") Koterba (17 May 1919 – 27 June 1961) was an American journalist known for his nationally syndicated columns "A Bit of Washington" and "Assignment Washington" as well as his investigative journalism for the Washington Post.[2]

Ed Koterba
Ed Koterba.jpg
Edward Victor Koterba

(1919-05-17)17 May 1919
Died27 June 1961(1961-06-27) (aged 42)
RelativesJeff Koterba (nephew)[1]

Life and careerEdit

Koterba was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska the son of Czech immigrants. His first newspaper job after graduating from Omaha South High School in 1935 was as a copy boy for the Omaha World-Herald. He briefly attended the University of Omaha in 1939, studying journalism and music and also working part-time for the Omaha World-Herald as a junior reporter and photographer. In 1940 he began working in Washington D.C. as a secretary in the War Department and then as a secretary for Union Pacific Railroad. He was drafted into the army in 1942 and primarily worked in military intelligence posts serving as a Russian and Czech interpreter. After the war he settled in Waynesboro, Pennsylvania where he had married Dorothy Chafont in September 1945. He was discharged from active duty in 1946 and began working for The Record Herald in Waynesboro which at the time was run by his father-in-law, Floyd Chalfont. During his time at The Record Herald, he served as a reporter and editor and wrote a popular daily column, "In Our County", under the pseudonym "Hank Hayseed".[3][4]

When he was hired as a reporter and feature writer for the Washington Times-Herald in 1952, Koterba and his wife moved to Bethesda, Maryland with their young son. In his own time Koterba also began writing a daily column on the lighter side of Washington, D.C political life. First called "Jottings from Washington" and later "A Bit of Washington", it was initially syndicated to The Record Herald, but was eventually syndicated nationally. When the Washington Post bought the Washington Times-Herald in 1954, they kept Koterba on as reporter and feature writer. His first big feature for the Post was a six-part exposé on gambling and election irregularities in Southern Maryland which ran on the paper's front page and eventually led to two grand jury investigations.[3][5]

Koterba left the Washington Post in 1955 to concentrate on his column "A Bit of Washington". He also became a frequent contributor to Roll Call and began writing a second column, "On Tour" in which he chronicled his family's adventures on their trailer tours of the United States. It was picked up by the Hall Syndicate in 1958, who billed Koterba as a "modern Ernie Pyle" and had plans to send him to various far-flung US Armed Forces bases around the world to cover the life of the GIs stationed there. The project came to an end in 1959 when Scripps Howard offered Koterba a job as their nationally syndicated Washington columnist to replace Frederick Othman who had died in December 1958. The new column, "Assignment Washington" ran until Koterba's death in 1961 at the age of 42. He was killed on 27 June 1961 along with four other people, including the journalist Ned Trimble of the Kansas City Star, in the crash of private plane off the coast of La Push, Washington.[3][6][7][8]

On the day following the plane crash, John F. Kennedy opened his press conference on the Berlin Crisis with a tribute to Koterba:

I want to first of all express my regret at the information I've just received in regard to the death of our colleague in these press conferences and a fine newspaper man, Ed Koterba, who, I understand, was killed in a plane crash last night. He was a most--he was an outstanding newspaperman who was associated with Scripps-Howard, and we want to express our sympathy to members of his family and also to the papers with which he was associated. I want to say personally that I'm extremely sorry to have heard the news.[9]

Koterba's name is inscribed on the Newseum's Journalists Memorial, along with over 2000 journalists from around the world who died in the course of their duties. In 2016 Koterba's son, who was nine years old at the time of his death, published The Essential Ed Koterba, a collection of his father's columns and articles spanning the course of his career.[10][4]


  1. ^ Kelly, Michael (7 October 2014). "After 25 years with his hometown paper, Koterba still draws them in". Omaha World Herald. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  2. ^ Editorial Staff (3 July 1961). "Koterba Death Ends Brilliant Career". Daily Herald, p. 6. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  3. ^ a b c Morgret, Ed Koterba (2016) "Introduction". The Essential Ed Koterba, pp. xlix–lii. MCP Books. ISBN 1634139224
  4. ^ a b Hardy, Shawn (20 May 2016). "Outstanding newspaperman Ed Koterba aka Hank Hayseed remembered". The Record Herald. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  5. ^ Lanosga, Gerry (2012). "A New Model of Objectivity: Investigative Reporting in the Twentieth Century" in Burton St. John and Kirsten A. Johnson (eds.) News with a View: Essays on the Eclipse of Objectivity in Modern Journalism, pp. 48-50. McFarland. ISBN 0786491116
  6. ^ Editorial Staff (26 September 1958). "Modern Ernie Pyle to Write about GIs all Over the World". Daily Herald, p. 1.
  7. ^ Kearns, Carroll D. (6 July 1961). "The Late Ed Koterba". Congressional Record, p. 11991
  8. ^ Koenig, John (Associated Press) (29 June 1961). "Official Washington, Press Corps Mourning Columnist Ed Koterba". Warren Times-Mirror, p. 9. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  9. ^ Kennedy, John F. (28 June 1961). The President's News Conference (transcript). The American Presidency Project, University of California Santa Barbara. Retrieved 18 October 2017.
  10. ^ Newseum. "Journalists Memorial: Edward Koterba". Retrieved 18 October 2017.

External linksEdit