3 Apr 2018

Veteran White House reporter Connie Lawn dies aged 73

11:19 am on 3 April 2018

RNZ's long-serving White House correspondent Connie Lawn has died at the age of 73 after a battle with Parkinson's disease.

Connie Lawn.

Connie Lawn. Photo: Supplied

Ms Lawn was the longest-serving White House correspondent, having spent nearly 50 years covering successive US presidents.

Ms Lawn was born in Long Branch, New Jersey in 1944 and was a familiar voice on Radio New Zealand for more than 20 years, covering a range of topics including politics, scandals, wars, tragedies and arts and culture.

She has also promoted New Zealand tourism and skiing through many articles written for the US market.

She was awarded an Honorary New Zealand Order of Merit title in recognition of her services to New Zealand/United States Relations in 2012.

She also received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Press Club of NZ, and was also proud of having a champion local race horse named after her.

Her last RNZ News appearance was on Election Day in the United States last year, when she described the prospect of a Trump presidency as horrifying.

In 1968, she conducted one of the last interviews with Bobby Kennedy moments before he was shot in Los Angeles, was beaten by Chicago police during the riots of the Democratic National Convention and arrived in Czechoslovakia two weeks after Soviet tanks rolled in to crush the Prague Spring.

She was living in a Watergate apartment in 1972 at the time of the infamous break-in at Democratic headquarters in the Washington complex and was smuggled into Lebanon in 1982 during that country's civil war.

Ms Lawn also said her proudest moment was a meeting with Nelson Mandela who said he listened to her in jail and her reports "gave his people hope".

She was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 2011 and died at her Lake Barcroft home in Falls Church, VA, yesterday morning. She is survived by her husband and two sons.

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