Charles J.V. Murphy, 83, the former Washington bureau chief for Fortune magazine and the author of best-selling books about the duke and duchess of Windsor and Adm. Richard Byrd's expeditions to Antarctica, died of lung cancer Dec. 29 at his home in Grafton, Vt.
Mr. Murphy's career as a journalist included coverage of World War II in Europe and the Pacific and radio accounts from Antarctica on the progress of Byrd's expedition there in the early 1930s. In May 1941, he was a passenger aboard the Egyptian steamer Zamzam when it was sunk in the South Atlantic by a Nazi warship. He wrote a dramatic account of the incident and the rescue of all 323 passengers for Life magazine.
In the late 1940s, he was commissioned by the duke of Windsor to write the duke's autobiography, "A King's Story," which became a best-selling account of the events leading up to the duke's abdication as King Edward VIII in 1938 to marry "the woman I love," Wallis Warfield Simpson.
Later Mr. Murphy wrote the duchess' autobiography, "The Heart Has Its Reasons." That book appeared in 1955 after Mr. Murphy had been fired upon completing 75 percent of it, then rehired to finish the job. In the late 1970s, he was coauthor with Joe Bryan of "The Windsor Story," a book about the life together of the duke and duchess after the abdication.
Mr. Murphy spent most of his career with Time, Life and Fortune magazines. He retired in 1966 after having been chief of Fortune's Washington bureau for 14 years. He lived in Washington until moving to Vermont in 1980.
He was said to have had an encyclopedic mind and a love for good whiskey and good conversation. For years, Mr. Murphy and the late James Jesus Angleton, the fabled former counterintelligence chief of the Central Intelligence Agency, shared a table at the Army & Navy Club in Washington where they discussed matters such as the British debacle at Gallipoli during World War I and Gen. Douglas MacArthur's tactics during the early months of the Korean War.
Mr. Murphy was particularly well-connected with the defense and intelligence communities. During the 1950s and 1960s, he was a colonel in the Air Force Reserve and his duties included advising and writing speeches for NATO officials.
He also wrote children's books, including "Little Toot," a popular 1940s book about a tugboat in New York harbor, and "Hercules and Loop," a book about an airplane.
A native of Newton, Mass., Mr. Murphy attended Harvard University, but he left after two years to take a job as a night rewrite man on the Boston American. Later he worked for The Associated Press and United Press in New York. He was fired by United Press in the late 1920s after rewriting a 27-word dispatch on the fall of Nanking to the Kuomintang during the Chinese revolution into a dramatic 1,500-word account that was distributed nationwide on the UP wires. His editors said the facts did not support Mr. Murphy's version.
In the early 1930s, his work came to the attention of Byrd, who asked Mr. Murphy to accompany him to Antarctica. That trip took two years. In addition to broadcasting regular accounts of the expedition's progress, Mr. Murphy did the writing for three books about it that appeared under Byrd's name, "Little America," "Discovery" and "Alone."
In 1935 Mr. Murphy joined Time Inc. He later became a senior writer on the staff of Life. During World War II, he wrote a three-part series on Winston Churchill that caught the eye of the duke of Windsor. That led to the duke's invitation to Mr. Murphy to write his autobiography.
Late in the war, Mr. Murphy was sent to China to replace Theodore H. White, who had fallen into disfavor with Henry R. Luce, the editor-in-chief of Time, Life and Fortune. There he spent five months working on a profile of Chiang Kai-shek, the nationalist Chinese leader, but the article was never published.
As chief of the Fortune bureau in Washington, Mr. Murphy specialized in defense- and intelligence-related coverage. He wrote an account of the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion in Cuba that was highly critical of President Kennedy and that incurred the president's wrath.
At his death, Mr. Murphy was working on a biography of the late defense secretary James V. Forrestal.
Mr. Murphy's wife, the former Jane Brevoort Walden, died in 1980.
Survivors include two daughters, Mrs. Per Cappelen Smith of Trondheim, Norway, and Edithe M. Holbrook of New York City; two sons, Reginald P.W. Murphy of Gordonsville, Va., and Charles H. Murphy of Washington; one brother, Philip Murphy of Waltham, Mass., and seven grandchildren.
SAMUEL R. DWECK, 79, a real estate developer and a former president of the Hebrew Home of Greater Washington, died of heart ailments Dec. 28 at Broward General Hospital in Pompano Beach, Fla.
Mr. Dweck was born in New York City and he moved to Washington in 1937. He established the Esther Shops, a chain of children's department stores in the Washington area, and he ran that business until selling it in 1957.
He then went into real estate development. Among the companies he founded was the Equity Investment Corp. Through this and other firms he developed commercial and residential properties. He remained active in his business until his death.
In private life Mr. Dweck established the Samuel R. Dweck Foundation, through which he supported various charities. He was a founding member of the Hebrew Academy of Washington, a trustee of the United Jewish Appeal Endowment Fund and a past president of the Washington chapters of the American Friends of the Hebrew University and the Prime Minister's Club of Israel Bonds.
Since 1981 he had lived in Pompano Beach. He also maintained a residence in Chevy Chase.
Survivors include his wife, Rena Dweck of Pompona Beach; two daughters, Susan Dweck of Washington and Bernice Salem of Brooklyn, N.Y.; three sons, Ralph Dweck of Washington, Morris Dweck of Bethesda, and Aboud Dweck of Philadelphia; one brother, Irwin Dwake, and two sisters, Jean Meyers and Renee Shamosh, all of Pompano Beach; five grandchildren, and one great-grandchild.
EARL SYLVESTER RICHARDS, 56, a retired Postal Service employe who also had driven taxicabs in Washington, died Dec. 27 at D.C. General Hospital after a heart attack.
Mr. Richards, who lived in Washington, was born in Westmoreland County, Va. He served in the Army from 1952 to 1954. He moved to Washington after his Army service.
He worked 32 years for the post office before his retirement in 1986 as a maintenance supervisor at the Main Post Office building here. He had driven taxis for Capital Cab for the last 25 years.
Mr. Richards was a member of the Masons and the NAACP.
Survivors include his wife, Barbara J. Richards of Washington; four daughters, Cynthia, Jewel and Darlene Richards, all of Washington, and Earlene Johnson of Dahlgren, Va.; two sons, Earl Turner of Colonial Beach, Va., and Kenneth Johnson of Dale City, Va.; his mother, Sylvetta Richards of Colonial Beach; one brother, Clinton Richards Jr. of Oak Grove, Va., and five sisters, Olivett Peyton of Oak Grove, Virginia Walker and Doris Jones, both of Philadelphia, and Juanita Richards and Marie Bundy, both of Washington.
PETER STEPHEN SITNIK SR., 70, a Washington area businessman and property investor, died of a heart ailment Dec. 27 at Mount Vernon Hospital.
Mr. Sitnik, who lived in Alexandria, was born in New York City. He graduated from American University. During World War II he served in the Navy and later in the Army in Europe.
After the war he returned to the Washington area.
During the 1940s and 1950s he owned and operated Pete's Market, an Alexandria grocery. Later he owned and operated the Alexandria Machine Shop, then the Treasure Chest Antique Store and Shaffer's Florist Shop, both in Alexandria.
Mr. Sitnik also bought and sold real estate.
He was a former president of the Mount Vernon Kiwanis Club, the Woodley Hills Elementary School PTA in Fairfax and the Mount Vernon High School PTA,
Mr. Sitnik was fluent in Russian and he had traveled to Russia several times.
Survivors include his wife, Nellie A. Sitnik of Alexandria; two sons, Gary R. Sitnik of Alexandria and Peter S. Sitnik Jr. of Springfield; one daughter, Marsha E. Sitnik of Alexandria, and four grandchildren.