Past HFPA President Helmut Voss Dies

by Theo Kingma September 18, 2014

A past president of the HFPA, Helmut Voss has died after a long illness. Helmut, who was president from 1998-2000, was instrumental in the HFPA purchasing their present building on South Robertson in West Hollywood.

Helmut was born in Hamburg, Germany on July 25, 1939. While still studying at Hamburg University, he joined the giant Springer publishing company as a reporter in March 1961 and only six months later at age 22 was assigned by the company's newly formed in-house Springer Foreign News Service as a correspondent to its London office. He stayed in London for five years, covering such stories as the Profumo scandal, the Great Train Robbery and the Aberfan disaster and then was offered a position in Springer's New York office. He stayed for two years, covering the early US space program, the Detroit riots and numerous other major US events of the sixties, at a time when foreign correspondents were still doing a lot of leg work and had no cell phones, laptops or digital cameras at their disposal. After a brief stint as an editor with one of Springer's Sunday papers in Hamburg, he returned to the US in 1970 and opened Springer's first West Coast office in Los Angeles. During the next 10 years he reported on the Charles Manson and Patty Hearst trials, traveled extensively in Latin America and also covered more and more celebrity news, doing "at home" stories - when that was still possible for foreign correspondents - with stars like John Wayne, Mae West, Henry, Jane and Peter Fonda. In 1980 he was given the opportunity to become the Springer bureau chief in London. However, after four years in London he asked to be reassigned to Los Angeles, crossed the Atlantic a fifth time with his family and was in charge of the LA office until it was closed for good in 2000.

In later years he fought a brave battle against cancer but despite his illness he returned to the HFPA as Parliamentarian for nine months until he became too ill to continue. His last visit to the HFPA office was to join members watching Germany play in the World Cup. HFPA President Theo Kingma said: "We are very sad and will miss him a great deal. We will always remember Helmut not just as a great journalist , colleague, board member, parliamentarian and president, but especially as a wonderful person." Funeral services will be in Santa Barbara.