John Womack Vandercook


John Womack Vandercook

Greater London, England
Death 6 Jan 1963 (aged 60)
Delhi, Delaware County, New York, USA
Burial Delhi, Delaware County, New York, USA
Plot Lot: 992
Memorial ID 179089426 View Source

DELHI, N. Y., Jan. 7 - (AP) John W. Vandercook, radio news commentator and writer whose career took him to the far corners of the world, died yesterday at a hospital here after a long illness. He was 60. He had been taken to the hospital Saturday from his home in this village in southeastern New York. His death was attributed to a heart ailment.
Had Suffered Stroke
Vandercook suffered a stroke two years ago that forced him to retire as a nightly news analyst for the American Broadcasting company. He also had suffered a series of heart attacks. Survivors include two children by his third wife, who died in 1961 after a fall in their home. The children are John Christopher, 14, and Audrey Margaret, Private services will be conducted tomorrow at St. John's Episcopal church in Delhi.
Vandercook worked in the early 1920s for newspapers In Columbus, Ohio; Washington and Baltimore. He also was assistant editor for McFadden Publications and feature editor of The New York Graphic. In 1923, Vandercook set out on the first of a series of trips that were to last for 12 years and produce material for many of his books.
Covered World War II
Vandercook's radio news career began in 1940 when he joined The National Broadcasting company. He covered World War II campaigns in North Africa, Italy and France. He later worked for the Liberty Broadcasting company and then spent seven years with ABC. Vandercook's first wife, Margaret Melzger died. He was divorced from his second wife, Jan Perry. She is married to author John Gunther.

Published in The Bridgeport Bridgeport, Connecticut
Monday, January 7, 1963 Page 39

...While World War II was going on, Americans often turned to their radio for news and information.

For our region, two national voices delivering news and comment were often heard, both having ties to or making appearances here. One, a Delhi resident, was John W. Vandercook, and the other was E.R. “Curly” Vadeboncouer of Syracuse.


Although born in London in 1903, John W. Vandercook, at six weeks old, began a journey with his parents to their native country, the United States.

John F. Vandercook Jr., the father, was the European manager for the Scripps-McRae Publishers Press Association at the turn of the century. He was headquartered in London providing international news to the U.S. Only a few years later, the senior Vandercook founded what went on to become United Press International. He died at age 35 in Chicago.

Young John was educated in New York, Louisville and Delhi, the latter of which he made his home later in life. His grandfather had built a house on Second Street sometime around 1850.

Vandercook dabbled in acting for a short time and then worked as a reporter for newspapers in Columbus, New York, Baltimore and Washington. Along the way he met his first future wife, Margaret Matzger, a New York sculptress. They married in 1923.

They then embarked on 12 years of expeditions to little-known regions around the world, returning to New York periodically to write accounts of their travels for magazines.

In 1940, Vandercook was one of the last Americans to leave Nazi Germany. NBC radio hired him to do daily 15-minute commentaries, always at 7:15 p.m., and listeners locally and nationally grew accustomed to his deep voice signing off with, “This is John W. Vandercook. Goodnight.” He stayed with the network until 1946.

The Courier Magazine of November-December 1952 told how Vandercook was very popular as a news commentator.

“You were not only given the news, but an explanation of what went on behind the actual news events. During the war some of his broadcasts were written and delivered from the actual war fronts of Italy, France and Germany.”

After departing NBC, Vandercook turned to writing books and numerous articles for The Atlantic Monthly and The Saturday Evening Post.

Vandercook returned to network radio from 1953 to 1960 for ABC. He then retired to Delhi in 1960. He died in January 1963.

Years later, Vandercook was remembered by locals in The Daily Star of Aug. 9, 1983.

“He was just a common down-to-earth man,” said Howard Robinson of Delhi.

“He was distinguished and frequently would walk to the Post Office, wearing a beret and cane, and sometimes a cape,” said John Raitt of Delhi. “He was quiet and kept to himself.”....

Extracted from "Backtracking: The Early Years: Local voices kept the nation up to date during World War II" published in The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY May 5, 2017

Contributed by Member # 48860385


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