Henry "Hank" Trewhitt, 75, an author and former Washington journalist, predominantly with the Baltimore Sun, who also played banjo and sang with other reporters in a bluegrass music group called The Informed Sources, died Jan. 23 at his home in Albuquerque. He had emphysema.
Mr. Trewhitt, a former Washington resident, worked for the Sun from 1957 to 1967, was a diplomatic and White House correspondent for Newsweek and worked at the Sun again from 1974 to 1985. He retired in 1989 as deputy managing editor for international affairs at U.S. News & World Report.
He was a former panelist on the PBS news program "Washington Week in Review" and wrote a well-received 1971 book about the Vietnam War era defense secretary, Robert S. McNamara, called "McNamara: His Ordeal in the Pentagon."
Mr. Trewhitt can claim a place in history as the man who in 1984 asked then-President Ronald Reagan a question at a televised presidential debate that all but assured his reelection victory over Democratic challenger Walter F. Mondale.
Mr. Trewhitt asked Reagan whether, as the oldest president in history, his age was a barrier to functioning fully, should an international crisis occur on the scale of the Cuban missile crisis.
"Not at all," Reagan said. "And, Mr. Trewhitt, I want you to know that also I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience."
Washington Post reporter David S. Broder wrote the next day: "There was a huge laugh, in which Mondale joined. But it may well have been that the biggest barrier to Reagan's reelection was swept away in that moment."
Besides his banjo playing and singing with the bluegrass group, Mr. Trewhitt was a regular performer at the Gridiron Club.
Henry Lane Trewhitt was born on a farm in Cleveland, Tenn., where his mother wrote a farming column for the local paper and fostered his interest in reporting. He was a 1949 journalism graduate of the University of New Mexico and, at age 25, received a Nieman fellowship to study international affairs at Harvard University.
He worked for the Santa Fe New Mexican and the old Chattanooga Times before joining the Sun, where he became Bonn bureau chief and covered the building of the Berlin Wall.
He moved to Albuquerque in 1989 and taught journalism until 1997 at the University of New Mexico.
In 1982, he was a recipient of Georgetown University's Edward Weintal Prize for diplomatic reporting.
Survivors include his wife of 54 years, Barbara Parnall Trewhitt of Albuquerque; a son, Jeffrey Trewhitt of Frederick; a sister; and two grandchildren.