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Former Unipresser Al Kaff dies

Oct. 27, 2011 at 4:16 PM   |   Comments

BRIDGEPORT, Conn., Oct. 27 (UPI) -- Former United Press International foreign correspondent and Vice President Albert E. Kaff has died in Bridgeport, Conn. He was 91.

Kaff of Fairfield, Conn., died of a heart attack Tuesday at St. Vincent's Medical Center, Arthur Kaff said in an e-mail.

Kaff spent 33 years as a foreign correspondent, news editor and bureau manager for UPI. Later he worked in public relations for Cornell University.

He covered the last year of the Korean War, the Indochina conflicts that led to the Vietnam War, the Communist-Nationalist Chinese artillery battles at Quemoy and Matsu in the Taiwan Strait, Japan's economic development and Olympic games, interviewing such historic figures as Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam and Ho Chi Minh of North Vietnam, as well as Chiang Kai-shek of Nationalist China.

"In Asia, I met everyone from Princess Margaret to Queen Elizabeth II (no cameras allowed) to Imelda Marcos, from Van Heflin to Helen Hayes, from Mark Clark to Maxwell D. Taylor, from Billy Graham to Maggie Higgins to William Lederer to James Michener. I even shared a room with Michener in the Tokyo Foreign Correspondents' Club," Kaff wrote in a piece for Overseas Press Club's OPC Bulletin.

"I interviewed Marlon Brando in a Tokyo taxicab that was taking him to the airport, and I even danced with Imelda Marcos. But I did not ask her how many pairs of shoes she owned."

Among the more memorable stories he said he covered was the February 1966 crash of an All Nippon Airways Boeing 727-81 passenger plane into Tokyo Bay that killed 133 passengers and crew. That was followed a month later by the crash of a Canadian Pacific DC-8 at Tokyo's Haneda Airport, killing 64, and the crash the next day of a BOAC Boeing 707 over Mount Fuji, killing 124.

Born June 14, 1920, Kaff grew up in the Missouri River town of Atchison, Kan., playing trumpet in the high school marching band. He served as a U.S. Army clerk typist in the southwest Pacific during World War II and later in Japan and Korea was editor of the 45th Division News.

He is survived by his wife Diana, two sons and four grandchildren.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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