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Sidney Epstein, 81; Washington Star Editor, Associate Publisher

September 19, 2002|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Sidney Epstein, 81, a former newspaper copy boy who rose to associate publisher and editor of the Washington Star, died Sunday at a nursing home in Rockville, Md. He had Alzheimer's disease and pneumonia.

Epstein became editor of the Washington Star in 1978 after a long career that began at the old Washington Herald in 1937.

Later, as city editor of the merged Washington Times-Herald, he reluctantly hired a young Jacqueline Bouvier as a roving photographer.

The socially prominent debutante, who later married John F. Kennedy, had studied photography at the Sorbonne, using a 35-millimeter Leica.

Epstein hired her for $25 a week after she mastered a less fancy camera, the large-format Speed Graphic.

In the 1960s, he played a major role in coverage of Kennedy's assassination and the riots in Washington after the murder of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Born in Wilmington, Del., Epstein attended George Washington University but left to pursue his journalism career. During World War II, he served with the Marines in the Pacific Theater, then worked as a rewrite man for the Times-Herald.

He joined the Star in 1954 and remained until it closed in 1981.

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