Born Raymond Walter Apple Jr. on Nov. 20, 1934, in Akron, Ohio, he was known as "Johnny Apple" -- except in his Times byline. And since 1963, that byline graced articles about politicians, cuisine, war, architecture, social movements and far-flung countries, to name a few. His coverage, travel and range seemed limitless.
The paper also came to regard him as a master of analytical writing that could accompany straight news reports on major events. His expertise in that form, in fact, can be held partly responsible for the gradual spread of the "smart take" on the news, supplementing the simple recitations of events that came before, which has by now overtaken the mediascape.
"Johnny leaves behind bereft legions of friends, colleagues, proteges and imitators, admiring competitors and grateful readers, and his beloved Betsey," said Times Executive Editor Bill Keller in a memo to staff, referring to Mr. Apple's wife. "He leaves, too, a hole in the heart of the paper he adored, and an empty place at countless tables."
Mr. Apple's career at the Times spanned assignments as a war correspondent in Vietnam, the Falklands and Iraq, and he covered presidential and congressional campaigns. He also served as bureau chief in Albany, New York; Saigon, Vietnam; London; and Washington. He was eventually elevated to the post of chief correspondent for the Times.
Worked until end
He worked until the last, filing an article that provided his answer to the challenge: "Name 10 restaurants abroad that would be worth boarding a plane to visit, even in these fraught days."
"I would expect no one else to choose the same 10," he wrote in the article, which the Times printed after he died, "but on the other hand, I would be astonished if many of my nominations disappointed."
He is survived by his wife; two stepchildren, Catherine Brown Collins of Washington and John Brown of Alexandria, Va.; and a sister, Barbara Pittman of Rockford, Ill.