Ron Koziol, a co-founder of Investigative Reporters and Editors and a member of the Arizona Project team, died Saturday, June 13, of congestive heart failure. He was 74.
Koziol was a longtime police reporter at the Chicago Tribune. In 1975 he helped found IRE, and he was a member of the group of reporters who went to Phoenix following the murder of reporter, and fellow IRE founder, Don Bolles. The team’s mission was to complete the investigation Bolles was conducting into organized crime and land fraud.
“Ron was IRE's first president and helped make it a national organization,” said Edward DeLaney, IRE’s first attorney and longtime secretary. “He brought a down-to-earth sensibility to a group that took a lot of criticism in its early years. He also knew how to throw one fine party.”
In a 32-year career at the Tribune, he made a national name for himself, regularly beating local and national competition with stories on some of his era's most sensational stories, including the scandals in Illinois Secretary of State Paul Powell's office, the kidnapping of newspaper heiress Patty Hearst and the crimes of serial killer John Wayne Gacy, according to an obituary that ran in the Tribune this week.
"Kozy was among the best of a legendary crew of wily, fierce competitors who were working the streets as police beat reporters in those days," Jim Strong, a retired Tribune labor writer and colleague, told the paper. "We had four daily papers pumping out four or five editions and replates every night, and editors were always looking for new leads or surprises for every new edition."
He is survived by his wife, Barbara; three daughters, Karen Back, Donna Salazar and Kimberly Torri; a son, Steven; a brother, Edward; and eight grandchildren.
Information for this article came from a report in the Chicago Tribune.