Ivan Zverina Obit

Ivan Zverina, Veteran UPI Journalist, dies at 80

Longtime UPI New York staffer and U.N. correspondent Ivan Zverina died in New York on July 27, 2004, after a year-long battle with throat cancer. He was 80, according to his son, Jan Zverina.

Zverina, who retired in May 1990 after a distinguished journalistic career with UPI that began in Prague 45 years earlier, was an editor and reporter on the international desk in New York, as well as 25 years as a UPI diplomatic correspondent at the United Nations. He also was an editor on the financial desk in New York just prior to his retirement.

In 1992, Zverina began work on an eight-year project that resulted in a published memoir of his early career spent in Prague as a reporter at then-United Press. The memoirs also describe his daring nighttime escape across the border into Austria from the communist regime in Czechoslovakia in 1949 with his wife Marta. Zverina met Marta when she worked at the Prague UP office as a translator in 1946 before taking on a similar post in the press section of the American Embassy in the Czech capital.

As newlyweds only five months before, they briefly settled in Vienna, where Zverina resumed work with UP before taking on a similar post in the Frankfurt bureau. It was then on to England before sailing to New York in 1952, where Zverina once again joined the wire service.

Recounting the tumultuous political climate in Czechoslovakia between 1945 and 1951, Zverina's book is a detailed account of UP's challenges in covering post-World War II events and the rise of communism in the late 1940s.

In addition to gathering extensive research by traveling across the country and through Europe to interview numerous former UP and UPI staffers for his memoirs, Zverina revisited Prague several times, while also enjoying extended vacations almost every year with his wife at their favorite hotel in Sorrento, Italy.

Zverina, who had lived in Flushing, New York since the early 1960s, is survived by his wife and three children -- Helen, Jan and Peter -- as well as five grandchildren. Besides Marta, both Helen and Jan are proud Downholders as well.

Helen worked for a brief period (1968-69) on the New York Latin American desk, and is now with the city administration of San Francisco. Jan worked in New York financial news from 1976 to 1985 before spending another nine years as UPI's National Auto Writer in Detroit and another nine years with DaimlerChrysler's public relations staff in Detroit. Jan now resides in San Diego with his family. Peter is a case administrator with the Social Security Administration in New York.

Excerpts of Ivan's book, entitled Prague (UP) -- The Story of Prague United Press 1945-51 were published in the "95" newsletter in 2001. A limited number of copies are still available by contacting Jan Zverina or by clicking here.