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Subject: Ralph Vigoda, Philadelphia Inquirer reporter

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Date Posted: April 14, 2003 6:49:57 EDT

Ralph Vigoda, 53, a reporter for The Philadelphia Inquirer known for reporting quickly and clearly under pressure, April 8 in Philadelphia of an apparent heart attack.

Vigoda collapsed after returning home from a weekly game of basketball with friends.

Co-workers and top editors gathered the next day to share memories, ranging from Vigoda's warmth, good humor and reporting skill to the pet rabbit he kept in the newspaper's former Chester County office.

"Ralph was part of the soul of the Inquirer," said Walker Lundy, editor and executive vice president.

Vigoda had worked at the Inquirer since 1986, covering news in the Philadelphia suburbs as a reporter and editor. He taught journalism classes at Temple University during most of that time.

He reported and wrote on subjects from the history of the hoagie to the 1996 murder of Olympic gold-medal wrestler David Schultz at John E. duPont's estate in Newtown Square. He was selected from nearly 150 reporters on the staff to write the Inquirer's main story about the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

On April 8, he had written a story on a state Auditor General's report criticizing Pennsylvania's parole board, completing it less than four hours after being alerted to the more than 200-page report. The story appeared the next day on the front page.

"That was what he did every day," said Virginia Smith, the newspaper's Pennsylvania editor. "He was the guy you went to for big and small stories."

Vigoda was born in Elizabeth, N.J., and attended Rutgers University and Boston University.

He previously worked for The Associated Press, the New Brunswick (N.J.) Home News, the Boston Herald Traveler, The Boston Globe and the Baltimore News-American.

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