Aug. 3, 1923 - May 3, 2003
SEATTLE - Martin Heerwald, 79, one of the most respected journalists in the Pacific Northwest for four decades from the late 1940s, died in his Seattle home on May 3.
"Marty's integrity and credibility were above reproach. He was even-tempered and thorough in reporting. And the sternest words he ever used were 'darn it,' " said Bill McFarland, a coworker at United Press (later UPI) for much of Heerwald's career.
"Governors and other office holders from Arthur B. Langlie on lauded his coverage of state government in his days as UP manager in Olympia," McFarland said.
Heerwald moved up to state editor and bureau manager for the international news organization in 1953, and was based in Seattle. After a short stint as UP business representative for the Pacific Northwest, he resumed his post of state editor, remaining until retirement in the 1980s.
Heerwald told the world about many major stories in the Northwest. He wrote of aviation's advance into the jet age, reporting on the coming of the Boeing 707 and its many successors.
And during coverage of the 1962 Seattle World's Fair, his coffee-break interviews with John Glenn (USA) and Gherman Titov (Soviet Union) made world headlines when he asked each of the wildly famous space pioneers (separately) if they had experienced ethereal feelings while orbiting the earth.
Glenn's reply was, "I did have a feeling of being in the presence of something greater than mankind. Yeah."
Titov, bemused at Heerwald's question as relayed via an interpreter, responded in Russian; it translated as, "Do you mean did see any angels? NYET!"
Mr. Heerwald was born in Billings and grew up in Red Lodge, Mont. He graduated from the University of Montana with a degree in journalism and remained interested in university activities. He served in the Navy during World War II. He was a member of The Rainier Club in Seattle.
He is survived by his wife Rose; by a brother Lee in Minneapolis; and sister Opal Rowsey in Broadus, Mont. His first wife, Birdeen, died in 1984; a stepdaughter, Valerie, resides in Emmett, Idaho.