The Corner

Trevor Armbrister, Rip

The conservative journalist Trevor Armbrister died yesterday. Here’s an obituary, written by a former colleague:

Trevor Armbrister, 72, a Reader’s Digest Washington bureau correspondent for more than three decades and author of five books, including the autobiographies of former President Gerald R. Ford and Speaker of the House Denny Hastert, died of pancreatic cancer at his Chevy Chase home March 22.

Mr. Armbrister was also founder, president and Chairman of the Board of Christmas in April, a charitable effort which has rehabilitated some 2,500 homes of poor, elderly and disabled Washington-area residents.

A varsity wrestler and Dean’s List student, he was graduated from Washington and Lee University in 1956 with a bachelor’s degree in English. He then joined the Army as a private and was discharged as a lieutenant in 1958.

After a stint with the J. Walter Thompson advertising agency in New York, he joined the Saturday Evening Post as a contributing editor in 1962 and was named Washington Bureau Chief in 1965. He held that post until 1969, when the magazine ceased publication.

He joined the Reader’s Digest Washington Bureau in 1970 and for the next 32 years wrote on a wide variety of topics, from Latin America to illicit drugs, from tax policy to vote fraud, from Social Security and Medicare to Washington influence peddlers and the criminal justice system.

“He was a consummate professional, says his long-time colleague, retired Reader’s Digest Executive Editor and Washington Bureau Chief William Schulz. “Trevor was an indefatigable investigator, a clear and compelling story-teller. There was no subject he could not master. Well, maybe nuclear physics.”

Mr. Armbrister’s first book, “A Matter of Accountability: the True Story of the Pueblo Affair,” was published in 1970 and re-issued in 2004. In 1972, he and then-Rep. Don Riegle, wrote “Congress.” An investigation Mr. Armbrister undertook for Reader’s Digest into corruption in the United Mine Workers led to the 1975 book, “Act of Vengeance: the Yablonski Murders and Their Solution.”

In 1977 he began work on the memoir of former President Ford. He spent months with Ford, interviewed hundreds of Ford administration officials, political associates,friends and rivals, and reviewed tens of thousands of pages of documents. The result was the 1977 bestseller, “A Time to Heal: the Autobiography of Gerald R. Ford.”

His autobiography of Speaker Hastert, “Speaker: Lessons from Forty Years in Coaching and Politics,” was published in 2004.

John J. Miller, the national correspondent for National Review and host of its Great Books podcast, is the director of the Dow Journalism Program at Hillsdale College. He is the author of A Gift of Freedom: How the John M. Olin Foundation Changed America.


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