Veteran AP reporter turns 100
RENO — Robert Geiger witnessed much of the 20th Century from the front lines, recording the nation’s history as a reporter of The Associated Press.
But this veteran newsman who spent 40 years with the AP marked his own personal milestone this week when he celebrated his 100th birthday and defended his position as the news cooperative’s oldest alum.
“Everybody looks at it that way, but it’s all in a day’s work to me,” Geiger said.
Geiger retired from the wire service in 1968 and settled in Reno to be near his daughter and son-in-law. He and his wife, Marjorie, moved to Nevada from Washington, D.C., where he spent 23 years covering five presidencies.
His wife of 68 years died about 10 years ago.
“When I started out, I was going to write the great American novel, but I got too caught up in the action,” Geiger said. “I’ve counted eight times that I came within an inch of death.”
Geiger recalled he had just stepped off the aircraft carrier Bunker Hill when it was hit a short time later by two suicide bombers. Another time, a plane in Colorado crashed an hour after he canceled his flight. Two people were killed.
Before the war, Geiger made history while covering the drought in Kansas, Oklahoma and eastern Colorado when he wrote: “Three little words achingly familiar on a Western farmer’s tongue, rule life in the dust bowl of the continent — if it rains.”
Although locals disliked the label, the term “dust bowl” stuck and became a part of the American lexicon.
During World War II, Geiger was a part of the press corps that covered the South Pacific aboard Navy ships. He was just offshore when his AP colleague, photographer Joe Rosenthal, took the Pulitzer Prize-winning picture of U.S. Marines raising the flag on Mount Suribachi.
After the war, Geiger settled in at AP’s capital bureau. Although he’s no longer filing news reports from war zones or presidential campaign trails, Geiger continues to tap out stories on an old Underwood typewriter.
He celebrated his birthday this week with family members who traveled from across the country to mark the event.
“I don’t think there’s a single thing I would change in my life,” he said.