Anthony Marquez, intern who rose to L.A. bureau chief for Associated Press, dies at 55

Anthony Marquez, an Associated Press intern who rose to Los Angeles bureau chief, where his calm hand brought stability to news coverage in Southern California amid upheaval in the journalism industry, has died. He was 55.

Marquez died Thursday due to complications from cancer.

Unfailingly courteous and with a disarmingly quick wit, Marquez was that rare boss and executive who seemed to have no enemies. Those who spoke highly of him included not only the reporters, photographers and others he hired but the many editors and news directors whose newspapers, websites, and TV and radio stations received news from the AP.

“Anthony was such an impressive person,” said Gary Pruitt, AP president and chief executive officer. “He exemplified the very best of AP: high journalistic standards, impeccable business ethics, treating everyone with respect.”

Frank Baker, the AP’s California news editor since 2011 and Marquez’s chief deputy for five years before that, said Marquez was understated and rock solid.

“Anthony mixed so many great qualities. He was helpful. He was compassionate. He was upbeat. And he sure was funny,” Baker said. “I can't recall a time we were together in the same room — and there were hundreds of those times over the years — that we didn’t share a glance or a comment that left us both laughing.

“Even though he worked in a serious business, he never took himself too seriously.”

Marquez brought a passion for news that he first honed as managing editor of his college newspaper, Cal State Fresno’s Daily Collegian. It was at Cal State Fresno where he met his wife of 29 years, Maureen.

His alma mater honored him in 2013 with its prestigious Top Dog Award for distinguished alumni. In an acceptance speech, he joked that no one got into journalism for the money.

“You did it because you wanted to make a difference and you wanted to have an impact,” he said. “And so I would hope that everyone here would continue to support that, to support student journalists and to understand that it really does matter and it makes a difference.”

Marquez graduated from Cal State Fresno in 1985, and then earned a master’s degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.

He landed a summer internship at the AP’s Minneapolis bureau, then was hired as a reporter in the news service’s San Francisco bureau, where he became day supervisor, directing and editing the bureau’s daily news report.

Marquez left the AP four years later to work for several San Francisco Bay Area newspapers, the last one being the Mercury News in San Jose, where he was Bay editor. The AP hired him back as San Francisco’s assistant bureau chief in 2000, and three years later he was named chief of the Los Angeles bureau, the organization’s second-largest U.S. bureau and one of its busiest.

His arrival in Los Angeles coincided with the explosion of digitalization that brought massive changes and job cuts to journalism. He embraced the challenge, directing an award-winning staff that covered major stories including the 2007 Southern California wildfires, the death of Michael Jackson in 2009, the annual Academy Awards and celebrity trials including those of Jackson, Phil Spector and Robert Blake.

He also led the bureau’s business operations, visiting frequently with editors, publishers and other executives of California and Nevada’s major news organizations. As the news business changed, Marquez pushed AP staff to embrace other storytelling formats while pressing the AP itself to become more diverse.

The first in his family to attend college, he developed the first internship program at the Contra Costa Times, where he worked in the 1990s. He later served on the AP’s Corporate Diversity Committee.

Outside of work, he loved comic books and could discuss the adventures of Marvel superheroes like Spider-Man with any hardcore fan. His move to Los Angeles, meanwhile, had allowed him to embrace a lifelong love affair with the Los Angeles Dodgers. During summers he loved escaping to Dodger Stadium, sometimes with gatherings of a dozen or more fellow AP employees.

A huge football fan as well, on several occasions he presented the AP National Championship Trophy to the nation’s No. 1 college football team.

Baker said during the illness Marquez was loath to discuss his health.

“He was far more interested in comparing notes on sports,” Baker said. “But when he did talk about the illness, he was unfailingly upbeat, taking each setback in stride and always — always — looking ahead to getting back to work at AP.”

Marquez is survived by his wife and their three children, Paul, Aaron and Francesca.

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