CARROLLTON, Texas, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Bruce B. Bakke, who covered violent protests at the 1968 Chicago convention and led UPI news coverage in the U.S. South and Southwest has died at the age of 74.
Bakke, a diabetic, was injured March 26, while trying to corral a dog that had run away from his home in Carrollton, Texas, a Dallas suburb, his daughter said. He suffered internal bleeding in his neck/spine area. Surgery stopped the bleeding but he was left paralyzed in the lower part of his body. He died Friday.
Bakke, who grew up in Thief River Falls, Minn., began his UPI career in 1959 in Chicago writing sports for the national radio desk. He later headed bureaus in Springfield, Ill., and Des Moines, Iowa, in the 1960s.
Earl Flowers, who worked for Bakke in the Des Moines bureau, said he was a "terrific boss" and he learned a lot from him. He recalled one of the best known stories about Bakke returning to Chicago to cover the 1968 riots.
Bakke faced a cop about to bash him over the head with a nightstick. He looked the officer straight in the eye, fiercely pointed his index finger at him and said, "Don't you dare." The cop walked off without hitting him.
He was appointed Southern Division News Editor at Atlanta in 1971. During his tenure, he directed news operations for eight southern states. In 1977 he moved to Dallas to take on similar duties for the nine-state Southwest Division.
During more than 25 years with UPI, Bakke's assignments included five national political conventions, five manned space launches at Cape Canaveral, the 1976 Montreal Olympics, the funeral of former President Herbert Hoover, and scores of sports and political events.
Bakke was born Nov. 26, 1933 in Virginia, Minn., but grew up in Thief River Falls. He loved to tell tales of his youth when he would accompany his father on wood-cutting expeditions into nearby regions of Canada.
Bakke graduated from the University of North Dakota with a degree in Journalism. While in school, he won three National Collegiate Player's "Oscars", including one for an outstanding performance in a major role in 1957 for his portrayal of Stanley Kowalski in "A Streetcar Named Desire."
Bakke served in the U.S. Army as a Morse Code Operator in West Germany.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Bettianne, who died Sept. 28, 2005.
Bakke is survived by his daughter, Cristella Bakke, of Costa Mesa, Calif.; his grandson, Noah Johnson; three brothers, Lee, Paul, and Steven Bakke, and his sister Susan McGuire.