Editor’s Obituary Takes Tawdry Twist

After Oregonian editorial page editor Bob Caldwell died Saturday, the report from the newspaper on Sunday said he had suffered a heart attack.

That does appear to be the 63-year-old journalist’s cause of death. But the circumstances surrounding his last moments were considerably more complicated.

On Monday, The Oregonian followed up to say that Caldwell “was in the Tigard apartment of a 23-year-old woman when he went into cardiac arrest Saturday afternoon. The woman called 9-1-1 at 4:43 p.m. to report that Caldwell, 63, was coughing and then unresponsive after a sex act.”

She also told authorities that Caldwell had been giving her money “for books and other things for school in exchange for sex acts at her apartment,” the newspaper wrote.

Oregon Public Broadcasting adds that:

“Sergeant Dave Thompson of [the] Washington County Sheriff’s office … says the woman told officers Caldwell had previously given her cash for sex. But officers decided not to press charges against her.

” ‘Technically we probably could have charged her with prostitution because there was an exchange of something, books and maybe tuition money for sex. But it’s a misdemeanor crime and the circumstances of the guy dying in her apartment, we felt like it was probably not the most important arrest to make,’ ” Thompson said.

His widow, Lora Cuykendall, has put this gracious note on her Facebook page:

“To all of our friends and family:

“I fear today’s news about the circumstances of Bob’s death may have caused you more sadness. I apologize on his behalf. Bob was a kind, loving and fair man. He would have understood why The Oregonian needed to print the story and he also would have regretted the anguish that it caused to those he loves — both outside and inside of the newspaper. We love him unconditionally. Thanks to all of you for your loving support.”

For background on the better known side of Caldwell’s life, The Oregonian also posted this appreciation. As it notes, “under his leadership, the newspaper won a Pulitzer Prize in 2006 for editorial writing.”

(H/T to Jim Romenesko.)

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.