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Murray Gart, Time writer, last Star editor

MITCHELLVILLE, Md. -- Murray J. Gart, the last editor of The Washington Star and a longtime correspondent and editor at Time Inc., died Wednesday from complications after heart bypass surgery. The Boston native was 79.

Mr. Gart was a correspondent and editor at Time until he was named by the company in 1978 to become editor of the financially strapped Star, which the media company had purchased in 1978. After the newspaper suspended publication in August 1981 after 129 years, Mr. Gart was named a senior editor with Time, based in Washington. Later, he was a consultant to Time.

Before joining the Star, he had worked for the magazine from posts in Boston, Toronto, Chicago, London, Vietnam, and Hong Kong, interviewing more than 55 world leaders.

As chief of correspondents, based in New York from 1969 to 1978, he directed a staff of more than 100 correspondents overseas and in the United States. Among the work he supervised were reports from the Watergate scandal and the withdrawal of US forces from Vietnam.

"He was sort of like a four-star general in charge of a global theater of operations," Strobe Talbott, the president of the Brookings Institution, a former diplomat, and a former colleague at Time, told The New York Times. "He was very, very well organized, and so the operation was very well organized.

"Murray was a fabulous mentor of younger reporters," Talbott said.

Born in Boston, Mr. Gart attended Boston Latin School. He served in the Army in Europe in World War II and graduated from Northeastern University in Boston in 1949.

He started his journalism career that year as a reporter with the Honolulu Star-Bulletin.

Mr. Gart leaves his wife, Jeanne; a son, Mitchell of Bedford, Mass.; a daughter, Marcia Mersky of Wilton, Conn.; a sister, Ruth Lantner; and four grandchildren.

Material from the Washington Post was used in this obituary.

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