Edgar Allen Poe, 92, a longtime Washington correspondent of the New Orleans Times-Picayune and past president of the White House Correspondents Association and the Gridiron Club, died of congestive heart failure Aug. 15 at his home in Arlington.
Mr. Poe, who joined the staff of the Times-Picayune in 1930, became its Washington correspondent in 1948. In addition to regular daily coverage of the capital, he also wrote a column, "Washington Panorama," which he contributed to the paper until he retired in 1994.
Along the way, he attended every national political convention, except for those in 1944, from 1940 to 1988. He missed the 1944 conventions because he spent World War II as a correspondent in the Pacific Theater covering Louisiana and Mississippi units.
He ended the war aboard the battleship Missouri in Tokyo Bay, where he witnessed the surrender of the Japanese Empire to the Allies. Soon after the war, he became one of the first Allied reporters to tour Hiroshima, which had been destroyed by an atomic bomb.
Mr. Poe used to say that he did not really want to cover the Washington scene but that he wanted to stay in his native South. His arrival may have seemed something of an ill omen: He stepped off the train in April 1948 in his trademark seersucker suit, only to find the temperature in the 20s and snow falling on the city.
But he made himself at home and managed to become not only an admired reporter but also a man who genuinely got along with the people he covered. He was even on friendly terms with President Richard M. Nixon.
Upon Mr. Poe's death, Sen. John Breaux (D-La.) remembered him as "the perfect Southern gentleman." Former president George Bush called him one of the "true greats," and added, "Today's adversarial and hostile journalism can learn much from his life and example."
Mr. Poe began his seven-decade newspaper career with the Mountain Eagle newspaper in his native Jasper, Ala. He then covered both crime and sports for the Birmingham News before joining the Times-Picayune.
He later recalled reporting to his new job on Easter Sunday at 9 a.m., following an all-night train ride from Alabama. By 10 a.m., an assignment editor, a breed not universally known for compassion, had him covering a news story.
After working for the paper's southern Mississippi bureau, he began covering Louisiana politics, and was said to have been one of the few reporters whom the legendary "Kingfish," Huey Long (D), had any use for. He wrote about Long, who served as both governor and U.S. senator, and later spent many years covering Long's son, former senator Russell B. Long (D-La.).
Mr. Poe, who maintained that he was not any close relation to the famed writer, may have had some advantage with a name sources could easily remember. But colleagues recalled that his name drew double takes everywhere he introduced himself, and at least once led to a memorable misunderstanding.
Mr. Poe was leaving the hospital room of a friend who had recently undergone brain surgery just as a physician was entering the room. The doctor asked the patient who the visitor was. On being informed that it was "Edgar Allen Poe," the doctor was convinced that something had gone dramatically awry with the operation.
Mr. Poe's survivors include his wife, Frances, of Arlington; two sons, Edgar Jr., and Thomas L., both of McLean; a sister, Elizabeth P. Kagel of Jasper; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.