Joel Havemann, who served more than 20 years in the Los Angeles Times’ Washington bureau as an economics reporter and a senior editor, has died after a 30-year battle with Parkinson’s disease.
Havemann, who died April 25, was 76.
In addition to his work in the Washington bureau, Havemann served a tour as Brussels bureau chief. His appointment came a year after his Parkinson’s diagnosis. Despite his advancing illness and the need for extensive travel in the overseas assignment, he provided comprehensive coverage of the economic collapse of the Soviet Union and the development of the Common Market.
Havemann was also the author of two books. The first, in 1978, provided a detailed analysis of the new federal budget process instituted as a reform after the Watergate scandal that ended Richard M. Nixon’s presidency.
The second, a more personal book, was published in 2002 after he returned to Washington from Europe. It was a candid account of his painful struggle against the ravages of Parkinson’s, as well as a detailed description of the disease and its causes.
At the time, many experts believed the disease, which today afflicts an estimated 1 million Americans, would be cured within five years, a goal that remains elusive.
As an editor, he was remembered by colleagues as having a rare ability to strengthen their stories while retaining their own voices and their confidence in their own abilities.
Doyle McManus, a former Times Washington bureau chief and now a columnist for the paper, said, “Joel was not only an accomplished reporter and editor; he was universally loved and admired by his colleagues — loved for his kindness and wry humor, and admired for his refusal to let Parkinson’s disease get in his way.”
It was that determination to live his life as fully as possible despite increasing physical impairment that struck many of his colleagues.
Janet Hook, who worked closely with Havemann as the bureau’s longtime chief congressional correspondent, said, “What a life well-lived. Joel was such an inspiration, as a thinker and journalist, as man with a big brain and even bigger heart.”
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Remembering Joel Havemann
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