Bruce van Voorst, magazine correspondent, dies at 81

December 13, 2013

Bruce van Voorst, who covered hot spots around the world during more than three decades as a correspondent for Newsweek and Time magazines, died Dec. 9 at Capital Caring’s Halquist Memorial Inpatient Center in Arlington County. He was 81.

The cause was complications from two falls, said his wife, Barbara van Voorst.

Mr. van Voorst worked at Newsweek from 1963 to 1975, serving stints as bureau chief in Bonn, Germany, and Buenos Aires. He was a Washington-based diplomatic correspondent in the 1970s and traveled extensively while covering Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s “shuttle diplomacy.”

Mr. van Voorst joined Time magazine in 1979 and continued reporting from around the world, including as Middle East bureau chief. He was among the reporters aboard the plane that flew Ayatollah Ruhollah Kho­meini from France to Iran in 1979 after the revolutionary leader’s years in exile.

Mr. van Voorst covered the 1979 siege of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran and the ensuing hostage crisis. In December of that year, he obtained a rare interview with Khomeini. During the course of the interview, Mr. van Voorst informed the ayatollah that he had been chosen as the magazine’s 1979 Man of the Year.

Mr. van Voorst was expelled from the country days later, accused by the Iranian government of inciting the “hatred of the American people” through his reporting on the revolution.

He reported from New York and Brussels, his wife said, before settling in Washington in 1983. He became a senior correspondent for national security affairs, covering the end of the Cold War and crises that included the first Persian Gulf War. Mr. van Voorst retired in 1999.

L. Bruce van Voorst was born in Holland, Mich., where he received a bachelor’s degree in political science from Hope College in 1954. He received a master’s degree, also in political science, from the University of Michigan in 1955.

Before he went into journalism, Mr. van Voorst worked abroad for the CIA. Between his employment at Newsweek and Time, he was a foreign policy aide to Sen. Dick Clark (D-Iowa).

In retirement, Mr. van Voorst became a watercolorist. He sold his works privately and through venues that included the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria. He also wrote on a freelance basis.

His marriage to the former Marilyn Van Hekken ended in divorce. Survivors include his wife of 26 years, Barbara Burris van Voorst of Arlington; four children from his first marriage, Mark van Voorst of White Plains, N.Y., Carol van Voorst, a former ambassador to Iceland, of Arlington, Kathryn Marchmont-Robinson of La Grange Highlands, Ill., and Susan Prins of Holland, Mich.; a sister; five grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

— Emily Langer

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