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Adventurous Journalist, Author Ray Josephs, 93

By Adam Bernstein
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, April 9, 2005; Page B06

Ray Josephs, 93, a journalist and adventurer who became a best-selling author about time management and a well-traveled public relations consultant for everything from Japanese banks to the Concorde, died April 5 at his home in New York. He had kidney cancer.

Mr. Joseph was the precocious son of Russian-Jewish immigrants. He started his own neighborhood newspaper at age 8 in Philadelphia and later spent a decade at the old Philadelphia Evening Bulletin. On the job, he rented tuxedos to sneak into Main Line social events otherwise closed to slovenly scribes, but he began to tire of provincial news as war erupted in Europe.


As a gossip columnist in Buenos Aires, Ray Josephs met Evita Duarte. He later wrote a book, "Argentine Diary," that was critical of her husband, Juan Peron. (Family Photo)

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He was aggressive in seeking a foreign posting, but his bosses wanted a local angle. In 1939, they sent him via boat on a five-week assignment to find former Philadelphians living in the Amazon and the Andes.

It hardly met his threshold for geopolitical intrigue, but he cruised down anyway. After a series of jungle villages, he became so smitten with cosmopolitan Buenos Aires -- "No thatched cottages there" -- that he stayed for five years.

He worked as a gossip columnist for the English-language Buenos Aires Herald as well as a freelance reporter for the New York Herald, Time magazine and the show business newspaper Variety. He nightclubbed with Orson Welles and the theatrical impresario Sol Hurok, but one Variety assignment provided an even more useful contact: Evita Duarte, the actress who later married military strongman Juan Peron.

Such connections lent insight to his book "Argentine Diary: The Inside Story of the Coming of Fascism" (1944), which paid stylistic homage to William L. Shirer's "Berlin Diary." Hailed for its vivid depiction of militaristic and pro-Nazi politicians, Mr. Joseph's work was critical of Peron and other leading figures.

In Argentina, he worked as a recruiter for the Allied cause and once, according to his niece, helped destroy a print of a Leni Riefenstahl film that had been imported from Germany for propaganda.

Shortly before "Argentine Diary" was published, he decided it would be in his best interest to leave the country.

On lecture tours, he providing alarming accounts of Argentine taxi drivers who were really plainclothes policemen. They would drive politically indiscreet passengers directly to the authorities.

Other travels to South America followed, as well as an outpouring of magazine stories and books, including "Latin America: Continent in Crisis" (1948) and "Those Perplexing Argentines" (1952), the second written with U.S. Ambassador to Argentina James Cabell Bruce.

Soon after, he became a protege of public relations titan Ben Sonnenberg, whom he met during his lecture phase. Taking a cue from management consultants including W. Edwards Deming and Peter F. Drucker, Mr. Josephs wrote such books as "How to Make Money from Your Ideas" and "Streamlining Your Executive Workload."

His best-known title was "How to Gain an Extra Hour Every Day" (1955), which sold nearly 2.5 million copies, mostly from dozens of printings in Japan. Based on questionnaires he sent to people in various lines of work -- homemakers, professionals, heads of state -- the book offered hundreds of time-saving work methods. The goal, he said, was having extra moments for leisure, not more work.

He cited President Dwight D. Eisenhower on the usefulness of picking out the next day's wardrobe the night before. He found a businessman who liked to conduct meetings where everyone stayed standing, the idea being that they were inclined to ramble when seated comfortably. He also suggested showing up late for medical appointments -- doctors being tardy anyway -- and shaving in the shower.

When the book was reprinted in 1992, he was relentless about self-promotion. He identified foreign media outlets with bureaus in Manhattan and then phoned their home offices, always saying the call was coming "from New York." It always got him connected with an editor.

A new generation of reporters found the book an irresistible relic, with such advice as repeating the name of a new acquaintance to avoid wasting time trying to remember it.

"Good to meet you, Chris. Let's take a seat right here, shall we, Chris?" he told a British journalist in 1994. "I've prepared a little schedule for the day."

Jay Raphael Josephs was born on New Year's Day, 1912, in Philadelphia.

After his journalism career, Mr. Josephs was among the first in the public relations trade to visit postwar Japan and recognize the rising acceptance of American business principles. Over the years, his International Public Relations Co. would reach 65 countries. His clients included Toshiba, General Motors, the French oil company Elf Aquitaine and the Concorde supersonic plane that was seeking landing rights in New York.

He cut a dynamic figure, a small, dapper, wiry man who exercised 15 minutes a day on an exercise bike, had one facelift and ate small portions.

He fell ill during a trip to Argentina last year to celebrate his 63rd wedding anniversary to Juanita Wegner "Hanny" Josephs, his only immediate survivor. She was a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany when they met on a blind date in Buenos Aires. He called her "a señorita from Europe."


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