Nicholas von Hoffman, noted journalist, commentator and author

Haskell Point resident Nicholas von Hoffman, 88, died February 1 in Rockport. He was a well respected, if controversial, print journalist and media commentator who worked for the Washington Post for 10 years beginning in the late 1960s and thereafter contributed to publications including the New Republic, Esquire, Architectural Digest and the New York Observor. He commented on public affairs on “Byline,” a Cato Institute-sponsored radio show and battled with conservative columnist James J. Kilpatrick on “Point/Counterpoint” a segment of the the CBS television program “60 Minutes.” He also wrote plays and more than a dozen books, among them Citizen Cohn in 1988, a best-selling biography of Roy Cohn, Senator Joseph R. McCarthy’s chief counsel during the 1950s Red Scare.

Before becoming a reporter, Von Hoffman worked for community organizer Saul Alinsky in Chicago and went on to become a leader of the Woodlawn Organization which led civil rights efforts on Chicago’s South Side. He left in 1963 to join the Chicago Daily News as a reporter. He was among the first reporters to spend time in the hippie community of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco, producing 16 stories about life in the district that ran on the front page of the San Francisco Chronicle and formed the basis of his 1968 book, We are the People Our Parents Warned Us Against.

Katharine Graham, former publisher of the Post, wrote in her autobiography that Hoffman “had a gifted voice that represented a certain segment of the population that needed to be heard. Almost alone among American journalists of the time, von Hoffman was telling us what was in the minds of the young who felt dispossessed and unrepresented by the so-called establishment press.”

Von Hoffman lived on Haskell point for 30 years. At first he travelled back and forth between Maine and New York, but for the last 20 years he made his full-time home in Tenants Harbor. He made many friends here and will be sorely missed. A memorial service will be held in mid-May. For more information call 372-8585.

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