Political editor Leon Walczak, 61, suffered from pancreatic cancer
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Blair parent and 1963 graduate Leon Walczak died March 28 at age 61 of pancreatic cancer. The Kensington resident left behind Maria Recio Walczak, his wife of 19 years, and their two daughters, Alanna and Alexa, a Blair sophomore.
Walczak, known as "Lee," was a longtime writer and editor whose domain was national politics. He served as Washington bureau chief for Business Week for 20 years until 2006, when he retired to become the political news editor with Bloomberg News.
Walczak was born in Moscow to Polish Jewish parents who moved the family to Washington, D.C. for duties at the Polish Embassy in the late 1940s. When his term as diplomatic courier ran out, Walczak's father took several jobs in the area, finally investing in several neighborhood grocery stores. Walczak grew up in the district and became a United States citizen in the early 1960s.
The family eventually settled in Silver Spring, where Walczak attended Blair and graduated in 1963. From there he earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Maryland and a master's in magazine journalism from the University of Missouri. Walczak dove right in to the journalism scene in 1969, starting as an editorial trainee in the Washington bureau of McGraw-Hill World News.
The journalist was diagnosed with cancer shortly after beginning at Bloomberg News in 2006, and stayed on the job until two weeks before his death, still sending emails to the office from his hospital bed.
During his two-decade tenure with Business Week, Walczak wrote several breaking stories, including the 1994 cover "The Conservative Agenda" about the Republican snatch of the House and Senate and implications for the Clinton reign. The story was a finalist for the George Polk Award, a prestigious journalism award.
The writer also won the top prize Clarion Award for excellence in communications in 2002 for "Act of War," Business Week's famous news coverage of Sept. 11, 2001.
According to Business Week editor-in-chief Steve Shepard, Walzcak was a tough leader who demanded high standards and asked difficult questions.
He was also a sports car enthusiast who occasionally competed in his Porsche on tracks around the northeast. In addition to his wife and children, he left behind his brother David Walczak of Pikesville, Maryland.
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