Flagler professor was founder of government forums

Historic City News was saddened to learn that on Saturday, Victor Ostrowidzki of St Augustine, Flagler College’s director of the Forum on Government and Public Policy and a longtime professor at the college, died after battling melanoma.

Ostrowidzki, 80, was a veteran journalist who had served as a White House reporter during the Reagan administration and covered health-care issues in the Clinton era. He also reported on every presidential election from 1964-1988.

During the years Historic City News editor Michael Gold studied at the college, he became friends with Ostrowidzki — attending the forums as part of the Public Administration Program. “Victor possessed impeccable journalistic credentials and a wealth of knowledge about our government — especially the executive branch,” Gold said. “I was very fortunate to have known him during that time and feel better enlightened for his friendship.”

He joined the faculty of Flagler College in 1997, and went on to found the “Forum on Government and Public Policy” which brings in journalists and other experts to speak about current issues.

Robert Novak, David Broder, Joe Klein, Anne Coulter, Pat Buchanan and Chris Matthews, are but a few of the journalists who have participated at the college at Ostrowidzki’s invitation.

Among other contributions to Flagler College, Ostrowidzki taught Campaigns and Elections for the Humanities department and Media Power in Politics for Communication.

He was a native of Poland, and during the Soviet Union Occupation of Poland (1939-1941), Ostrowidzki’s father, a high-ranking Polish government official, was captured as a prisoner of war. At this time, Ostrowidzki’s mother, brother and grandfather were deported to Siberia while he was on vacation visiting his aunt. He survived both the Soviet Union and German occupation of Poland and was later re-united with his family in England in 1948.

Two years later, he moved with his family to the United States.

Ostrowidzki started working for the Hearst paper, the Times Union in Albany, New York, as a copy boy in 1953. He graduated from Siena College in 1954 and served in the United States Army from 1954-1957. During his military career, he aided Hungarian refugees escaping from the country in the midst of a revolt against the Soviets.

In 1957, Ostrowidzki came back to the Albany newspaper; this time, as a reporter. He was promoted to Capitol Hill bureau chief in 1960. In 1961, he was recalled to active duty for the Berlin and Cuba crisis, as an interpreter. After he completed his active duty, he earned a Master of Arts from Siena College and started covering Washington D.C. for Hearst Newspapers.

At Hearst, he served as White House, National, Foreign, War and Congressional Correspondent and Chief Political Writer. Ostrowidzki covered every presidential campaign for Hearst from 1968 until his retirement in 1997.

He is survived by his wife, Sharon; three children; two step-children; six grandchildren; four step-grandchildren; and a brother.

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