Washington Post obituary of Warren Unna

Below is the Washington Post Obituary for Warren Unna:

Warren Unna, journalist and Post bureau chief in India, dies at 93

Warren Unna, a Washington Post correspondent in India who later became Washington correspondent for the Statesman, an English-language newspaper based in Kolkata, died Feb. 9 at a retirement community in Mitchellville, Md. He was 93.

The cause was congestive heart failure, said a friend, Marea Hatziolos Grant.

Mr. Unna covered national news after joining The Post in 1952. His aspirations were to cover South Asia, where he had served with the Army during World War II.

In lieu of a Post bureau there, Mr. Unna made a specialty of writing about Asian affairs from Washington by cultivating sources at embassies and international organizations.

Mr. Unna was bureau chief in New Delhi from 1965 to 1967, then returned to cover national affairs in Washington. He was one of many journalists whose names appeared on President Richard M. Nixon’s enemies list in the early 1970s, presumably for his reporting on the Vietnam War for The Post and for a short-lived public television program, “Newsroom.”

He joined the Statesman in the early 1970s and remained with that publication for approximately the next two decades. He also contributed to other publications.

Warren Walter Unna was born in San Francisco on Sept. 14, 1923. He graduated in 1943 from the University of California at Berkeley with a degree in international relations. He worked at the San Francisco Chronicle before coming to The Post.

In the late 1950s, he traveled widely as an Institute of Current World Affairs fellow, for which he studied the Non-Aligned Movement countries during the Cold War.

He wrote a memoir, “Letters From America” (1994), and in retirement did consulting for the Westinghouse and McClatchy media companies. He was a member of the Metropolitan Club in Washington.

His marriage to Louise Thompson was annulled. Survivors include a stepsister.

(Copyright Washington Post 2017)

This website has commissioned a more detailed appreciation, which we look forward to publishing in the future.

In the interim, readers may find interesting this article from the Collingtonian of March 2012.

Unna Relates His Experiences in Asia

The March 21 guest speaker was no guest at all, but 12-year (almost) Collingtonian Warren Unna, who spoke of his experiences with celebrities from presidents to foreign heads of state while he was a newspaper reporter.

Warren graduated from the University of California, Berkeley and rst worked for the San Francisco Chronicle. The Institute of Current World Affairs gave him the opportunity to travel- study around the world for a year. He concentrated on how countries achieved neutrality.

He then obtained employment at the Wash- ington Post because, he said, the chronicle’s management didn’t want to pay the Newspaper Guild’s required salary for a senior reporter. For the Post, he primarily covered Asia. Warren rattled off a list of famous people whom he had met, beginning with then past-president Herbert Hoover who was chairing the Hoover Commis- sion for President Dwight Eisenhower. He found Hoover quite pleasant to deal with.

Not so Ike, who did not seem to like doing press conferences and kept the press at bay when he traveled. On the other hand, a John Kennedy press conference was “just a joy.” Lyn- don Johnson, who believed that “every man had his price,” was the best politician of the presi- dents, he thought. “He got his votes,” Warren said

Warren attributed his success in conducting interviews to being friendly and listening to the person being interviewed. It is also important to sit so as to make eye contact, he said. In Indonesia, he managed to obtain a difficult interview by learning that it was the local custom to not turn away any visitor who arrived in the late afternoon. In his travels about Asia, Warren recounted many experiences and listed the many prominent people he met: Indian Prime Minister Jawaharial Nehru who answered 17 questions for him, thereby generating two major stories with Warren’s byline; the King of Bhutan who sought advice on educating his son; an Indian health minister who walked briskly back and forth in a garden while he trailed her trying to take notes; President Lee Kuan Yew of the Republic of Singapore with whom he argued about the Viet Nam War; the daughter of a Japanese Prime Minister for whom a gift of stockings got him an interview and a nice meal in a restaurant; the wife of the president of South Korea who tried to nd eligible ladies for him to marry; Madame Chiang Kai-shek whom he watched squirm as her support from the “China Lobby” in America dried- up and British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who rejected his questions.

Of particular interest to residents was his accompanying G. Mennen “Soapy” Williams, then assistant secretary of state for African Affairs, on a whirlwind tour of 16 countries in 31 days for President Kennedy. In Addis Abbaba, Ethiopia, he met and lunched with Collingtonians Bill and Nancy McGhee, who were then stationed there. He apologized to them (they were in the audience) for impertinently asking if they “always ate that well.”

(Copyright Collington Residents Association 2012)

One response to “Washington Post obituary of Warren Unna

  1. I have known Warren for 40 plus years – a onetime colleague of my husband at the Institute of Current World Affairs (ICWA) – and have always cherished this special friendship and his always generous hospitality here at Collington. It was a delight to find him a ‘neighbor’ when I arrived in 2010 and we much enjoyed going to ICWA meetings in DC together. His record of interviewing a host of world leaders is perhaps unique. I will miss him greatly.