Bob Ellison, a former White House correspondent for the Sheridan Broadcasting Network and the only African American ever to be president of the White House Correspondents Association, died Monday at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington. He was 67.
In a newscast on American Urban Radio Networks, which succeeded Sheridan, Ellison's son Michael said his father had pulmonary disease and a history of prostate cancer. "He was a former smoker. He did his best to quit," Michael said.
Ellison was most recently a senior vice president of Walls Communications, a Washington public relations firm. As White House correspondent, he covered the Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations.
"Bob was a proud father and grandfather, a devoted journalist and a true friend," Wendell Goler, White House correspondent for Fox News, told Journal-isms via e-mail. "He took me under his wing when I arrived here at the White House in 1986 and was a source of support for many years after. Bob took the old Sheridan Broadcast network, now American Urban Radio, beyond advocacy journalism to the mainstream.
"His questions for the President and Vice President and their aides always went to the heart of the story. At the same time he never shortchanged his audience. He was accomplished at his craft and a source of pride as leader of the Correspondents Association. Under his guidance, the 1991 Correspondent's Association dinner focused less on the glamour of the evening and more on the scholarship provided to a local Washington, D.C. high school student. Bob and his wife Pam were gracious enough to attend most of the major events of the Goler household, from graduation parties to anniversary celebrations. My wife and I will miss him dearly."
"I will never forget him serving as emcee" of the 1991 correspondents' dinner, Jerry Lopes, AURN's president, program operations & affiliations, told Journal-isms via e-mail.
"As chair you emcee the dinner..you sit next to the President (George H. Bush), you host the pre dinner reception for the President and First Lady...you select the entertainment for the event (Sinbad) and the menu for the event. In honor of that historic occasion we had four tables and invited [the] entire civil rights leadership as our guest to witness the event....among those leaders who came ...John Jacob from the Urban League...Ben Hooks from the NAACP...Dorothy Height from the NCNW," the National Conference of Negro Women, "and Jesse Jackson from Operation Push. Bob handled himself throughout that event with grace, humility and professionalism. We at Sheridan Broadcasting/AURN will never forget that. Oh did I mention he also did a bang up job as our correspondent covering the White House each day."
Lopes added, "I plucked Bob from WOOK-FM Radio in DC," a black-oriented music station.
According to Ellison's bio, "Before entering the public affairs and journalism fields, he designed and evaluated U.S. foreign assistance projects for the Agency for International Development while serving in Ethiopia, Thailand and Liberia."
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