Alan L. Dessoff, journalist

December 21, 2012

Alan L. Dessoff, 77, an independent journalist who wrote for business, professional and trade publications, died Dec. 13 of cancer at the ManorCare Health Services facility in Potomac.

His death was confirmed by his daughter Victoria Gloster.

Mr. Dessoff was a former reporter and editor on the Metro staff of The Washington Post. He joined the newspaper in 1958, edited Maryland and Virginia stories and covered state politics in Maryland. He left The Post in the late 1960s to become press secretary to U.S. Sen. Daniel B. Brewster (D-Md.).

Mr. Dessoff later served as press secretary to Sen. Charles McC. Mathias Jr. (R-Md.) and as director of public information for the National Association of Counties and the American Forest Institute. He was also a vice president at two public relations agencies, Burson-Marsteller and Earle Palmer Brown.

In 1984, Mr. Dessoff opened a business as a freelance writer and editor. His clients included the AARP Bulletin, Water Environment and Technology magazine and the Daily Record, a Maryland business newspaper. He continued working until shortly before his death.

Alan Lewis Dessoff was born in Washington. He graduated from the private Sidwell Friends School in 1953 and from Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., in 1957. He received a master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of Journalism in 1958 before joining The Post.

As a Maryland political reporter, Mr. Dessoff wrote about the 1966 gubernatorial race in which Republican Spiro T. Agnew defeated Democrat George P. Mahoney, a perennial office-seeker. Two years later, Agnew was elected vice president on the ticket headed by Richard M. Nixon.

Mr. Dessoff was a former president of the Dartmouth Club of Washington and chairman of the editorial board of its alumni magazine. He was a Bethesda resident and a member of the Washington Hebrew Congregation.

Survivors include his wife of 48 years, Loverne Rowen Kekst Dessoff of Bethesda; three daughters, Regina Kessler of New York, Victoria Gloster of Wilmington, Del., and Alexandra Farber of Margate, N.J.; two grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

— Bart Barnes