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Hays Gorey died this week just a couple of months shy of his 90th birthday. But in the lore of The Salt Lake Tribune, he was still a golden boy, the young genius who had risen to city editor of the paper at the ridiculous age of 24 and gone on to a distinguished career as a national political reporter at Time magazine.

Gorey started at The Tribune as a copy boy when he was 17. He moved on to the University of Utah, where he edited The Utah Chronicle, the campus paper. He maintained his relationship with The Tribune, however, and after graduation, swiftly climbed the ranks to city editor, the executive who supervises coverage of local news.

Even at his young age, he was known for knowing everyone in town. He fired off a flurry of detailed daily assignment memos to the staff, and if a reporter made an error in a story, the errant writer had to explain the particulars to Gorey in groveling detail, also in a typewritten memo.

Eventually, the young city editor, by now not quite so young, became impatient for a larger stage. He won a one-year Nieman Fellowship to Harvard University in 1949 and was named news editor at The Tribune in 1957, the year the newspaper won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the collision of two airliners over the Grand Canyon which claimed 128 lives. About that time Gorey began stringing for national publications, among them Sports Illustrated and Time. They offered him various jobs, and in 1965 he finally accepted a writing assignment on Time's national political staff.

That landed him in the nation's capital. The Washington beat is every political reporter's dream assignment, and Gorey's talent flowered there. He covered presidential campaigns in 1968, 1972 and 1984. He was with Robert Kennedy's campaign in California when the senator was assassinated there in 1968. He was one of Time's lead reporters on the Watergate scandal and the resulting resignation of President Nixon. After other assignments that included bureau chief in Boston and Jerusalem, and as an editor in New York, he retired from Time as national correspondent in 1991.

In the course of his reporting career he also wrote or co-wrote books on Ralph Nader, Maureen "Mo" Dean (wife of Watergate figure John Dean), and Claude Pepper. In 1993, he wrote the text for a photo book commemorating the 25th anniversary of Robert Kennedy's assassination.

Hays Gorey was a born newsman, and a fine one. That's the highest compliment we can pay him. We of his extended family at The Tribune mourn his passing.