Award-winning reporter, columnist for Virginian-Pilot Larry Bonko dies


NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — A staple in the news community in Hampton Roads who was well-known for writing about sports, local broadcast television, and other features has died.

Larry Bonko, an award-winning writer for the Virginian-Pilot, The Ledger-Star and the Daily Press, died Friday morning from heart disease, the Virginian-Pilot reported Friday.

He was 86.

Bonko got his start at a small newspaper in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, when he was in high school.

After graduating high school, he enlisted in the Navy instead of being drafted into the Army during the Korean War, the Pilot reported. He was a journalist during the four years in the Navy and spent time in Norfolk as well as in Antarctica aboard the battleship Wisconsin.

He then worked nights at the Pilot while studying at Old Dominion University, which at the time was called the Norfolk Division of William & Mary. By 1961, he was working full-time for the Pilot.

Bonko was known for a “punchy” style, the Pilot wrote, and had a column called “Signals with Larry Bonko.”

Bonko also wrote a piece about the career of WAVY’s Regina Mobley in 2020.

Read Bonko’s full obituary in the Virginian-Pilot here.

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