John R. Aubuchon, a Maryland Public Television reporter who covered the General Assembly and was last year's National Press Club president, died yesterday of complications of lung cancer at Georgetown University Hospital in Washington. The Edgewater resident was 57.
Born in St. Louis, he was raised in Annapolis and graduated from an armed forces high school in Taiwan while his father was a U.S. naval officer there. He attended the University of Missouri and University of Maryland, College Park.
Mr. Aubuchon entered the broadcasting business in the mid-1960s as a disc jockey for WYRE-AM radio in Annapolis. He then joined the Army and became a Southeast Asia correspondent for Armed Forces Radio and Television Service while he was stationed in Vietnam.
About 30 years ago, he was hired by WTOP-AM in Washington as a reporter, then moved on to UPI radio and made on-air appearances on WJLA-TV in Washington.
After working as press officer from 1976 to 1979 for the Prince George's County Board of Education, Mr. Aubuchon returned to broadcast news.
Beginning in the 1980s, he covered the White House for Tribune Broadcasting during the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George Bush. In those years, he reported on the end of the Cold War and President Reagan's meetings with Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev. He then worked for CNN Newsource's Washington bureau.
He joined MPT in 1996 as senior correspondent for NewsNight Maryland and State Circle, a program about state politics and public policy.
"He was in a class by himself. He was a superlative gentleman," said Casper R. Taylor Jr., former speaker of the Maryland House of Delegates. "He was objective and very fair, and he never lost sight of his humanity. He was a real pleasure to work with."
Mr. Taylor recalled the day Mr. Aubuchon got word that he would become president of the National Press Club. "I made a big thing of that in the House chamber. He got a long, standing ovation," he said.
"He was always the consummate professional," said Tom Stuckey, Annapolis correspondent for the Associated Press. "He believed in getting it right, and being fair, accurate and unbiased. He was a helpful person who was well-liked by his peers. I also think he was respected by the officials he covered."
In June, the last month he was on the air, Mr. Aubuchon was honored with the Ted Yates Award for "outstanding professional and personal qualities" by the Washington-Baltimore chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
"John was a first-rate journalist and always a first-rate gentleman. He was dignified 24 hours a day," said Jeff Salkin, news anchor for Maryland Public Television and friend. "In all the years we worked together, I never asked a question that he didn't have the answer for. He also had a knack for asking the right questions because he was so well-informed."
Among his duties as press club president was introducing speakers including Henry A. Kissinger and Bob Newhart.
After his year leading the club, Mr. Aubuchon remained active as chairman of its Press Freedom Committee.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. Monday in Annapolis at St. Martin's Lutheran Church, 1120 Spa Road.
Survivors include his wife of nearly 20 years, the former Akemi Hirakawa Clark; a son, Lawrence Christian Aubuchon of Seattle; a daughter, Cathryn Jones of Arnold; his father, Robert W. Aubuchon of Edgewater; a brother, James C. Aubuchon of State College, Pa.; a sister, Suzanne M. Aubuchon of Alexandria, Va.; and three grandchildren. A previous marriage to Wendy Coyte ended in divorce.