Obituary: Jonathan Margolis, 1940-2024 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Obituary: Jonathan Margolis, 1940-2024 

Accomplished reporter was recognized nationally for his coverage of the Attica prison riots

Published February 5, 2024 at 6:00 a.m. | Updated February 5, 2024 at 7:46 a.m.

click to enlarge Jonathan Margolis - COURTESY
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  • Jonathan Margolis

Jon Margolis, veteran national political reporter for the Chicago Tribune, died on January 29, 2024, at the age of 83, at the University of Vermont Medical Center in Burlington, Vt.

Born in Trenton, N.J., in 1940 to William and Mars Margolis, he attended Rutgers Preparatory School in New Brunswick and went on to study history at Oberlin College, graduating in 1962. A passionate newspaper reader from childhood and a self-declared “politics junkie," Jon began a career in the news business as a reporter for the Bergen Record in Hackensack, N.J., then with the Miami Herald, the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire and Newsday of Long Island, where his coverage of the Attica prison riots established his national reputation.

He served as Newsday’s Albany bureau chief before leaving in 1973 to become a Washington national political correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. During his 23 years with the Tribune, he covered four presidential elections and was on the panel of the October 5, 1988, vice presidential debate between Lloyd Bentsen and Dan Quayle. In 1989, Margolis moved to Chicago to work for the Tribune as a sports columnist, correspondent-at-large and general columnist. He was renowned for his clever ledes and for his cogent interviews with rank-and-file voters, just two reasons his political work is featured in journalism schools across America.

After leaving the Tribune, Margolis taught classes as an adjunct at various Vermont-based colleges. For a decade, ending in November 2020, he wrote regularly for VTDigger.org, an online news source.

Margolis is the author of one work of popular history, The Last Innocent Year: America in 1964 (1999), and of The Quotable Bob Dole: Witty, Wise and Otherwise (1996) and How to Fool Fish With Feathers (1992), a lighthearted beginner's guide to fly-fishing illustrated by cartoonist Jeff MacNelly.

Margolis was a devoted fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers and the New York Mets, an avid reader, and an ardent fly fisherman. He had been to 49 of 50 states and studied Yiddish and French throughout his life. He thoroughly enjoyed dogs, opera and a great cup of coffee.

He is survived by his wife of 59 years, Sally; children Katey and Michael; daughter-in-law Amy; granddaughter Shally; and sister Susanna.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the South Burlington Public Library, 180 Market St., So. Burlington, VT 05403 or the Barton Public Library, PO Box 549, Barton, VT 05822.

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