Dick Roraback; Times Writer, Paris Expatriate

Dick Roraback, a colorful feature writer and copy editor at The Times for 22 years, has died. He was 68.

Roraback, who retired from The Times in 1995, died Saturday in Woodland Hills of throat cancer, after a yearlong battle.

He also had been sports editor of the International Herald Tribune in Paris from 1957 to 1972. His verse ode to an expatriate’s longing for baseball, “The Crack of a Bat,” is reprinted by that paper every year around opening day.

An adventurous soul, Roraback helped refugees escape from Hungary after the 1956 uprising against Communist rule. He was captured by Hungarian authorities and imprisoned for several weeks until the U.S. State Department negotiated his release.


He returned to the United States at that time but was soon drawn back to Paris, as he put it, “by hearing an Edith Piaf song.”

After study at the Sorbonne, Roraback edited and wrote for the Herald Tribune. In one 1970 series, he retraced the journey of newspaperman Henry Morton Stanley to find missionary David Livingstone in central Africa.

Roraback moved to Los Angeles in 1972 and joined The Times the next year. In a memorable 1985 series, he followed the route of the Los Angeles River, telling its history to residents who scarcely knew of its existence.

Roraback was a graduate of Dartmouth College and the Sorbonne in literature and history. He served as a U.S. Navy lieutenant in the Korean War and later as a Lutheran church missionary to refugees in Jerusalem in the 1950s.


He is survived by his wife of 33 years, the former Dorothy Pearson, daughter Amanda and son Richard.

A public memorial service is set Sept. 27 at Forest Lawn’s Wee Kirk o’ the Heather in Glendale.