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  December 9, 2002

Hank Pearson, Journalist, Dies

Hank Pearson, a veteran newspaperman and former journalism instructor at UConn, died of cancer November 18. He was 56.

Pearson taught journalism at the University for five years in the late 1970s. He was known as a mentor who had a knack for training and inspiring young reporters, happily taking the time to teach them what to look for and show them how to write it up.

Most recently, he lived in Alexandria, Va. where, as a reporter for newspapers and magazines, he covered everything from cops and courts to presidential candidates.

Pearson was born in Mystic, Conn., in 1946. He worked in the early 1970s at The Hartford Times and covered politics and criminal justice for Connecticut Magazine in 1974. As Sunday editor of the Norwich Bulletin from 1980-83, he redesigned and reenergized one of the state's oldest papers.

"Hank's enthusiasm for journalism was infectious," says Richard Veilleux, assistant manager of media communications at UConn, who was a reporter for Pearson when the two worked at the Norwich Bulletin.

"He once gathered material for a series on the near-homeless people living in Norwich's Wauregan Hotel - an awful place - by living there himself for a month," adds Veilleux. "The stories were a wonderful tableau of color and a great exposé."

Pearson became a national political reporter and columnist for the Capitol Cities/ABC-TV in 1983 and covered the 1984 presidential campaign. His reporting on a murder committed by a career criminal freed under the Federal Witness Protection Program was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1986.

He became the founding editor of the Prince William (Va.) County Journal in 1986, and was later named associate publisher.

In 1994, he joined the Washington (D.C.) Times, where he served as metropolitan editor.

Pearson's journalism honors included three Keystone prizes for feature writing, news writing, and political reporting; a Pennsylvania Associated Press managing editors award for political reporting; and a Virginia Press Association general excellence award for managing editors.

In his spare time, Pearson played golf, delighted in a motorboat he called the S.S. Pushy, and read. It is said he was never without a book.

Pearson is survived by his wife, Jacqueline.

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