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Frank Donze, New Orleans political reporter, dead at 64

November 5, 2018

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Journalist Frank Donze, widely respected in his native New Orleans for covering five mayors and a host of political movers and shakers during 35 years with The Times-Picayune, has died at age 64.

Donze (DAHN’-zee) died Saturday at his home of an apparent heart attack, his brother-in-law, Peter Finney Jr., told Nola.comThe Times-Picayune.

Since 2012, he had been a spokesman for the Audubon Nature Institute. But he was best known and admired for a newspaper career that began in 1977 when he was fresh out of Louisiana State University. He began covering New Orleans government and politics in 1984 during the administration of Mayor Dutch Morial. He would go on to cover mayors Sidney Barthelemy, Marc Morial, Ray Nagin and Mitch Landrieu.

He was renowned among fellow journalists and political figures for an encyclopedic knowledge of his hometown and its power structure, a vast array of sources, a keen wit and a mixture of easy amiability and tenacity.

“He’d ask you a question, and if he didn’t think you’d answered it right, he’d ask it again,” former City Councilman Lambert Boissiere Jr. told The New Orleans Advocate on Saturday. “But the thing is, he always made you feel comfortable about it.”

Finney told Nola.comThe Times-Picayune that Donze had a “take no prisoners” approach to journalism, but added, “no one really ever got mad at him. He knew how to navigate the flames and inform people.”

Donze was a member of The Times-Picayune team that won two Pulitzer Prizes, a George Polk Award, a National Headliner Award and the Medill Award for Courage in Journalism for coverage of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath.

Survivors include his wife, Elizabeth Finney Donze; two daughters, Caroline E. Donze and Victoria G. Donze, both of New Orleans; his mother, Angelina Donze Cardarella of Mandeville; two brothers, Dino M. Donze of Mandeville and David Donze of Baton Rouge; and a sister, Lisa D. Jacob of Mandeville.

A Memorial Mass is scheduled Saturday at St. Pius X Catholic Church in New Orleans.

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