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Andrew Viglucci, ex-San Juan Star editor, dies

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – Andrew Viglucci, the longtime editor of Puerto Rico’s San Juan Star and an early colleague of Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist William Kennedy, has died. He was 84.

Viglucci died Saturday from complications of Alzheimer’s disease, an upstate New York funeral home said.

Viglucci graduated from Albany High School, served in the Navy during World War II and earned a degree from Clark University. In the late 1950s, he and Kennedy, a friend and fellow Albany native, helped launch the English language daily San Juan Star.

Viglucci’s first visit to Puerto Rico was in 1956, when he quit his job as a reporter for the defunct Schenectady Union-Star after being hired by a newly established newspaper called San Juan World Journal.

“I remember going to the atlas to find out where Puerto Rico was,” Viglucci told the Times Union of Albany in a 1994 interview.

The World Journal folded in nine months. After a brief stint as a reporter in Washington, D.C., Viglucci returned to Puerto Rico, where he and Kennedy were among the founding staff of the Star. Viglucci was its first city editor when it opened in November 1959, while Kennedy was managing editor.

Two years later, the newspaper won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing. The Star ceased publication in late August 2008 amid a labor strike by its union employees. A fictionalized newspaper based on the Star was the setting for “The Rum Diary,” a novel by Hunter S. Thompson that was turned into a movie last year starring Johnny Depp.

Viglucci returned to Albany in 1967 for a short time as managing editor of the Times Union, but was soon hired back by the Star as its editor, a position he held for 25 years. After retiring in 1993, he returned to the Star the next year as editor in chief before retiring again in 2006 and moving back to Albany.

“Albany has always been dear to me, and I never cut my ties to it,” Viglucci said in that 1994 interview. “I’ve been very lucky to live in two places I love.”

Puerto Rico Gov. Luis Fortuno sent condolences, praising Viglucci’s work in the U.S. island territory and for being a mentor to other journalists.

“I know he always pushed for professionalism, seriousness and respect in the profession,” the governor said in a statement.

Viglucci is survived by his wife, Betsy Lopez Abrams, and five children.

A memorial service was scheduled for Monday evening at New Comer-Cannon Funeral Home in the Albany suburb of Colonie.

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