The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Doug Wong, Washington Post news desk editor, dies at 58

Washington Post journalist Doug Wong. (Courtesy of Tom Haygood)

Doug Wong, a Washington Post journalist who edited breaking news stories on a wide array of subjects including politics, natural disasters, wars and criminal justice, died Dec. 3 at a hotel in Orlando while on vacation. He was 58 and a District resident.

A spokeswoman for the Orange County (Fla.) Medical Examiner’s Office said the cause was hypertensive cardiovascular disease.

Mr. Wong, who initially studied engineering in college and described himself as “kind of a techie,” helped install new pagination systems early in his journalism career. He also worked as a copy editor and business editor at newspapers in Texas and Missouri before being hired by The Post in 2011.

In a statement, Executive Editor Sally Buzbee and Mr. Wong’s supervisor, Anne Bartlett, described Mr. Wong as a “crucial member of the staff [who] was unrelenting about making sure that Post stories met the highest standards. He also went out of his way to mentor less experienced reporters and editors.

“His teammates knew that they could count on Doug to work any shift, any time,” they wrote, adding that he was “unflagging.”

Panfilo “Ponch” Garcia, an editor who worked with Mr. Wong at The Post and the Austin American-Statesman, recalled Mr. Wong as a “gregarious colleague who built friendships across the newsroom with his uplifting laugh and his genuine interest in the lives of his co-workers and their families, whether it was in the office on deadline or at a Halloween party dressed as [President Lyndon B. Johnson]. ... He made both work and work life better.”

Garcia noted that Mr. Wong liked to treat groups of close friends to elaborate dinners at Chinese restaurants, with Mr. Wong “doing all the ordering and playing the role of maître d’, making sure everyone was enjoying the meal and having a good time. ... He didn’t bat an eye at spending a small fortune to see his friends happy.”

Douglas Frank Wong Jr. was born in Houston on Sept. 24, 1964, to Chinese immigrant parents who owned and operated American-style restaurants and grocery stores.

He was a 1989 communications graduate of Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Tex., then spent 11 years at the Waco Tribune-Herald, starting as a night police and religion reporter and later working as a copy editor and assistant news editor.

He then worked at the Houston Chronicle and American-Statesman before serving as business copy chief and then national editor at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch between 2005 and 2011.

Mr. Wong was an amateur nature photographer specializing in flowers and birds. He was a frequent visitor to Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pa., and, last year, he wrote about Conowingo Dam north of Baltimore on the Susquehanna River as an ideal spot to take pictures of bald eagles. Several years ago, he created a calendar of his nature pictures for a wide circle of friends.

He had no immediate survivors.