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Former GFH reporter dies at 77

GRAND FORKS — Larry Ray Lubenow, a Grand Forks Herald reporter who prompted Louis Armstrong to break his silence on segregation in 1957, has died at the age of 77.

His obituary said the Edinburg, N.D., native battled several medical conditions before his death May 8 in Cedar Park, Texas.

He is remembered in Grand Forks for his groundbreaking reporting while he was a University of North Dakota student working part time at the Herald. In February, a historical display recognizing his work went up at Grand Forks Central High School, where Armstrong would play the night Lubenow interviewed him.

Armstrong’s uncharacteristically forceful condemnation of school segregation in Little Rock, Ark., and President Dwight Eisenhower’s apparent inaction despite a judge’s ruling set off a firestorm around the country. Some believe Armstrong’s words prodded Eisenhower to send federal troops and forced integration a week later.

After college, Lubenow joined the Army and served in Vietnam, where he received a Bronze Star. He left 10 years later to work for a New York public relations firm before starting his own firm in Austin, Texas.

Lubenow is survived by his wife of 50 years, Vivian, three children and six grandchildren.

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