From organ transplants to AIDS to sports medicine to healthy eating, reporter Gordon Slovut covered the gamut of medical news for three decades, his insightful journalism educating generations of Minnesotans.
Breaking stories for the Minneapolis Star, Slovut became better known than many of the doctors he covered, winning awards from the American Heart Association, American Cancer Society and other local and national medical organizations.
“He had a lot of great contacts in the medical field and he used those to serve the readers,” said Lewis Cope, a retired medical/science reporter who wrote for the Minneapolis Tribune, and later worked alongside Slovut when the Star and Tribune merged in 1982.
Slovut, who lived in Golden Valley, died May 2 at age 83 of a heart ailment, said Dr. David Slovut, one of his two sons, a New York interventional cardiologist.
“He was very respected,” said Dr. Frank Cerra, retired senior vice president for health sciences at the University of Minnesota. “He reported what was good, and sometimes not so good, but he always did it in a factual and respectful manner, and it was always fair.” Slovut retired in 1998.
A graduate of Duluth Central High School, Slovut received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota and landed his first newspaper job at the Jefferson City (Mo.) News, where he was a reporter and editor in 1952 and 1953.
“He was very thorough, no BS,” said retired reporter George Monaghan, who was trained there by Slovut and later joined him at the Star.
Slovut later worked for the Associated Press and the Duluth Herald and News Tribune, hiring on at the Star in 1962. In 1963, he helped break in David Nimmer, a suburban reporter, who went on to become the Star’s managing editor and later a reporter for WCCO. Nimmer called Slovut “the consummate pro.”
Slovut covered Minneapolis City Hall, metro and legislative news, then won a medical writing fellowship to Columbia University in New York in 1968.
Slovut’s journalism touched numerous readers, among them Bev Moe, a paralegal, who used Slovut’s 1984 articles on healthy eating to develop a food plan that helped her lose 150 pounds and keep it off. “His columns really inspired me,” she said.
Slovut met his future wife, Maraline, while he was working at the Star, and they were married 48 years. “Gordy was very modest, very private,” his wife said. “He was very much into bike riding, and being fit and healthy for the whole family.”
Slovut gained a reputation as a runner before it was widely popular and competed in 10 marathons. He played an instrumental role in getting a fitness room built in the Star Tribune building.
Reporter Paul Levy recalls that in the mid-1980s Slovut finished a Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth 15 minutes before Levy did, even though Slovut was 20 years older — and had veered off the route to buy cookies at a McDonald’s restaurant.
He was also a fixture in the Star Tribune golf league. “He never hit the ball far, but he always hit it straight,” said reporter Jeff Strickler.
Son Brian Slovut, who is senior associate general counsel at the University of Minnesota, said he was a “fantastic” father who took his family camping and coached his sons’ baseball teams.
David Slovut, who dedicated a book he edited to his father, attended the U medical school for seven years. Did he ever pass news tips to his dad? “He didn’t need tips from me,” said his son. “He had his own sources.”
In addition to his wife and sons, he is survived by a brother, Bernard, of California, and three grandchildren.
Services have been held.