Blanche died Sunday in Beirut after losing a battle with cancer, said his wife, Mona Ziade. Blanche joined the AP in London in 1967 and went on to cover various crises around the world, including the 1967 Arab-Israeli war soon after he was hired as well as the Northern Ireland conflict. He also covered countries including Angola, Indonesia, Vietnam and Iran and reported extensively from Lebanon during the country's 1975-90 civil war.
Blanche moved to Nicosia, Cyprus, in 1986 where he was a Middle East editor for 10 years. "Ed was known for his bravery and commitment to truth during the toughest times in Beirut and for reporting from Lebanon accurately and fairly," said John Daniszewski, the AP's Vice President and Editor-at-Large for Standards. "He was a strong defender of AP's values, and a mentor to a generation of younger journalists who passed through the AP bureau or who worked at Beirut's Daily Star newspaper."
Blanche left the AP in 1996 because he wanted to resettle with his family back in Beirut, which he always considered to be his second home, Ziade said. The couple helped relaunch Lebanon's Daily Star newspaper, which had ceased to publish in the mid '80s at the height of the country's civil war. Blanche was initially foreign editor, then editor of the paper.
He left the Daily Star in 2003 to pursue a career of freelance journalism, specializing in military and strategic affairs. Julie Flint, longtime journalist and friend, said he had for years been working on a book on the history of warfare. She described him as a "consummate agency journalist."
Vietnam War correspondent and military writer Joe Galloway said he remembers first meeting Blanche in Jakarta in 1968 where Blanche was posted as foreign correspondent. "He was a great friend and a great competitor and I miss him being in this world," he said.
Born on May 16, 1942 in Newark, England, Blanche was described by colleagues as an energetic journalist who loved to share his knowledge and mentor younger colleagues. "Ed was an 'old school' wire service journalist, always willing to volunteer for challenging assignments, energetic and hard-working in the field," said Robert H. Reid, AP's former Middle East regional editor, now senior managing editor of Stars and Stripes. "Over his years of reporting, Ed had built up an impressive knowledge of the Middle East with all its political and social complexities and was always willing to share his insights with colleagues who were new to the region."
He is survived by his wife and their daughter, Tamara, and two children, Jay and Lee, from a previous marriage.