VETERAN AP REPORTER, ESSOYAN, DIES

ARMENPRESS
MARCH 27, 2012
YEREVAN

NEW YORK, MARCH 27, ARMENPRESS: Born in a Japanese fishing village
just after his refugee family landed there in a desperate 1919 escape
from Russia's Bolshevik revolution, Roy Essoyan arrived in the Soviet
Union nearly four decades later as an American journalist, reports
Armenpress citing Asbarez. But after three years of hobnobbing with
Premier Nikita Khrushchev and other communist leaders, The Associated
Press reporter's Cold War adventure ended abruptly. In 1958, he was
expelled for reporting that a serious breach had developed between
the USSR and Mao Zedong's China.

>From Hong Kong, a pulsating world away from the dreary Soviet capital,
Essoyan continued a career that took him around the globe, with stops
in Cairo, Beirut and finally, Tokyo. Returning to Shanghai in 1939,
Essoyan and a friend teamed up to publish small newsmagazines, and
he was working as an editor for the English-language Shanghai Times
when World War II finally reached Asia in late 1941, trapping many
foreigners in China.Life became hard during the occupation. Roy's
older brother was killed by a hit-and-run Japanese army truck, and
the Essoyans found that being stateless did not protect them from
the harsh treatment endured by citizens of western countries living
in Shanghai's famous International Settlement.As the conflict ended
in 1945, Roy, then 26, got a $90 a month job with the AP in Shanghai,
and impressed his boss enough to be offered a visa and assignment to
Hawaii. There, he became a U.S. citizen and burnished his English,
his third language after Russian and Japanese.

Then, after a brief stint in Cairo, Essoyan was named the AP's chief
of Middle East operations in Beirut in 1965 and became its chief of
North Asia services, based in Tokyo, in 1973 - coming full circle to
the land of his birth.

Colleagues admired Essoyan as a plain-speaking, old-school professional
with a lively sense of humor but always ready to battle with editors in
New York, where the news cooperative is headquartered, when he deemed
it necessary.James Abrams, an ex-Peace Corps volunteer who joined
the AP in Tokyo in 1979, recalled Essoyan as "everyone's mentor"
in a bureau stocked with legendary AP veterans and ambitious newcomers.

In interviews after retiring, Essoyan offered a nostalgic view of
the fast-paced, demanding craft of wire service reporting.

"It was a great life, 40 years of expenses-paid vacation," he told
one interviewer. "Think of all the places that people want to go to,
whether it's the Pyramids or the Sphinx or the Great Wall or the Taj
Mahal, I've been there.

"We used to say, 'How else do you get to talk to kings and emperors
and presidents and prime ministers?'

"The AP was more than a family to me," Essoyan said. "It was like
a nationality."

In 1985, he retired to Hawaii, where he died Thursday at age 92.