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Sen. Moynihan on ‘dean’ Alan Emory

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The late U.S. Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan, D.-N.Y., made these comments to President Bill Clinton at a 1997 celebration for Alan Emory, then Times Washington correspondent, who was marking 50 years with the newspaper:

Mr. President, the Watertown Daily Times’ Washington Bureau Chief Alan Emory marked a most felicitous occasion on Saturday. Alan has served the Watertown Daily Times and the people of New York state for a half a century. My colleague Senator D’Amato and I call him “the Dean’’ of the New York correspondents in our nation’s capital and, indeed, he is one of the nation’s most sagacious and indefatigable journalists.

His capacity for balanced reporting was grounded in his upbringing. His father was a Democratic New York State Supreme Court judge, his mother a labor arbitrator for the Republican mayor of New York, Fiorello LaGuardia. After Emory’s childhood in New York City and Long Island and a fine education at Exeter, Harvard and the Columbia School of Journalism, the young man headed north to seek his fortune. He landed a job at the Watertown Times in 1947 as its correspondent in Massena, a small city along the St. Lawrence Seaway. He steadily rose up the ranks to state editor, legislative correspondent and editorial writer.

In 1951, the newspaper opened a Washington bureau. He eagerly accepted the Johnson family’s offer to become the bureau chief and has served the people of New York state in Washington ever since — 46 years, a term almost twice as long as that of our state’s longest serving senator, Jacob Javits, who served for 24 years.

Mr. Emory is one of the most prolific daily journalists in Washington. He writes up to six stories per day and two columns per week for the Sunday commentary section. He also is the Washington columnist for the monthly magazine the Empire State Report. He does all this with a standard of accuracy and insight that few can match. While the Washington Post in 1977 described Mr. Emory as being one of a vanishing breed of Washington correspondents for regional newspapers, he remains an example of journalistic excellence to young reporters.

He also is one of the most gelastic lyricists ever to grace the Gridiron Club’s talent pool. He has written music for Washington’s most prestigious journalists’ club ever since he joined it 21 years ago, and he produced many of its most amusing skits. He has also served the Gridiron Club in more serious ways — as its vice president for 1994, president for 1995 and current treasurer.

Legislators and journalists are supposed to keep a healthy distance between them but I confess to a great personal affection for my old friend, Alan Emory. I congratulate him and his beloved wife, Nancy, as he celebrates 50 fine years with the Watertown Daily Times.

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