NYT’s Christopher Marquis, 1961 – 2005

In an email to the NYT staff tonight, Bill Keller announced that Christopher Marquis, one of the paper’s diplomatic correspondents, passed away today due to complications from AIDS.

A former Nieman Fellow and 11-year veteran of the Miami Herald, Marquis joined the Times staff in 2000 as a general correspondent and rewrite reporter, and, in Keller’s words, “quickly establish[ed] himself as a smart, quick and versatile correspondent.” His coverage of Central America–and particularly of Cuba–was legendary.

Beyond his reporting, in 2003 Marquis published his first novel, “A Hole in the Heart,” and was nearing completion of his second. Hole in the Heart, about a widowed teacher in Alaska, was partially based off of his experience in college, where he worked his way through UC-Berkeley by summering on “the slime line” at a cannery in Alaska, and received positive reviews. Book Magazine chose him as one of “Ten Writers to Watch” the year his novel came out.

Funeral arraignments have not been made yet.

Full email from Keller after the jump.

Email from Bill Keller to NYT staff:

I’m deeply sorry to tell you that Chris Marquis, a respected colleague who was a diplomatic correspondent in the Washington Bureau, passed away today of complications from AIDS at his brother’s house in San Francisco. Chris has been a reporter in the bureau since early 2000, beginning as a general assignment and rewrite reporter but quickly establishing himself as a smart, quick and versatile correspondent. Before coming to The Times he was for 11 years a foreign correspondent for the Miami Herald — he was a must-read on Cuba and Central America — and was chief foreign affairs writer for Knight Ridder. He was also a Nieman fellow at Harvard in 1998 and 1999.

Beyond his day job, Chris was establishing himself as a novelist. In 1993 [sic], “A Hole in the Heart,” about a lonely teacher in Alaska dealing with the untimely death of her husband, was published by St. Martin’s and drew positive reviews. He was completing a second novel, and trying to recuperate, when he took a health leave from the paper last fall.

Chris never complained, and many of his colleagues were unaware that he had been coping with serious illness for a long time. He was relentlessly upbeat and determined to press on, eagerly traveling with the Secretary of State around the world despite health issues that would have slowed many of us. He was just in love with reporting. We will miss him.

Here’s his Nieman class photo (Marquis is back row, right), and here’s a radio interview about his book.