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‘Meet the Press’ Co-Creator Dies

August 24, 1999

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Martha Rountree, co-creator and first moderator of the NBC News program ``Meet the Press″ has died at age 87.

Rountree, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, died Monday at Sibley Hospital.

In addition to originating and co-producing ``Meet the Press,″ she was also the only woman moderator in the show’s 52-year history. She also produced several other television shows, including ``Keep Posted,″ ``Washington Exclusive″ and ``Capitol Close Up.″

In 1945, she joined Lawrence Spivak in introducing ``Meet the Press″ as a radio show, and two years later the program aired on television for the first time. She went on the lecture circuit in 1953 when she sold her share of the show to Spivak after a coin toss.

``She was a news pioneer who helped create a national treasure,″ said Tim Russert, NBC News Washington Bureau chief and current moderator of ``Meet the Press.″

Rountree was born in Gainesville, Fla., in 1911, and studied at the University of South Carolina. She returned to Florida as a reporter for the Tampa Tribune but moved in 1938 to New York, where she worked as an editor and freelance journalist. She joined NBC seven years later.

In 1965, the award-winning journalist founded Leadership, a nonprofit political research organization, and was its president until 1988.

Rountree’s husband, advertising executive Oliver M. Presbrey, died in 1988.

She is survived by two daughters, three grandchildren, a brother and a sister.

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