The June 14, 1976 obituary of the Arizona Republic

Don Bolles was an investigative reporter for The Arizona Republic, writing about corruption and scandal. On June 2, 1976, he was seriously injured when his car was bombed while pursuing a lead for one of these stories. Eleven days later, on June 13, he died. He left notes and records that chronicle his work and paint a picture of Phoenix and Arizona in the 1970s. The Republic has begun to re-examine these records, and in the weeks and months to come will write more about what we find.

In the meantime, we want you to join us on the journey and share what you remember about how the Arizona of Don Bolles’ days became the Arizona of today. What do you remember from the time and what do you want to know?

As part of this work, The Republic is republishing Bolles’ obituary, written by fellow journalist Charles Kelly. It is presented here in fullas well as a video interview with Bill Shover, a Republic leader at the time who was with Bolles in the last days of his life.


After fighting what a doctor called the bravest fight for life he had ever seen, Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles died at 11 a.m. Sunday from injuries sustained when his car was smashed by a bomb on June 2.

Two and a half hours later, Phoenix police arrested and convicted of murder the man Bolles was to meet before the bombing.

John Harvey Adamson, 32, who police arrested twice in the past 10 days for defrauding an innkeeper and defrauding a commercial establishment, has been jailed in Maricopa County Jail for murder.

President Ford released a statement expressing his outrage at Bolles’ murder. Reaction also came from other political figures, civic leaders and journalists across the country.

At a hastily called press conference at St. Joseph’s Hospital, Dr. William Dozer, Bolles’ personal internist, announced, “Don Bolles is dead.

“He fought the bravest, most heroic fight I have ever seen anyone for their life.”

The final days of Arizona Republic investigative reporter Don Bolles

Former Arizona Republic leader Bill Shover was with Arizona Republic reporter Don Bolles in the final days before his death.

David Wallace, The Republic |

Dozer said it’s unclear which complication was the direct cause of the 47-year-old journalist’s death. A spontaneous collapse of the lungs or, more likely, a blood clot in the lungs may have ended Bolles’ 11-day struggle to live, Dozer speculated.

Bolles’ wife, Rosalie, was at his bedside when he died, Dozer said.

President Ford said he was “distressed and outraged that a journalist in search of the truth has become an apparent victim of the underworld”.

Bolles suffered serious injuries when what police said was a remote-controlled bomb blew up his car as he backed out of a parking space at the Clarendon Hotel, 401 W. Clarendon.

Dozer, who had been Bolles’ doctor since around 1962, said there was “no way” an average man would have survived the explosion. The journalist was in excellent physical condition, he said.

After the explosion, Bolles remained conscious and able to speak. Those providing first aid heard the reporter say “Mafia”, “Emprise” and “John Adamson”.

The Emprise reference was to Emprise Corp., which was reorganized as Ramcorp Metal Inc., and which along with the Funk family of Phoenix owns all of the dog racing tracks in Arizona and the Prescott Downs horse racing track. Bolles began investigating Emprise operations in Arizona in the 1960s.

The front page of the Arizona Republic, the day after Don Bolles died.

Doctors at St. Joseph’s Hospital were forced to amputate Bolles’ right leg above the knee shortly after the explosion.

Six days later, Bolles’ right arm was amputated above the elbow to stop an infection that would have killed him. Two days after the operation, doctors amputated the journalist’s left leg, again to stem an infection.

“Each of these procedures was life-saving at the time it was performed,” Dozer said. He had said earlier that Bolles’ possible quality of life was taken into account in decisions about amputations, and that they were only carried out when clearly necessary.

Dozer said Bolles was “fully conscious” for two days after the explosion. The reporter was able to nod in response to police questions and identify a photograph of Adamson as that of the man he intended to meet at the Clarendon Hotel.

Adamson allegedly told Bolles that he, Adamson, had information regarding a land deal involving Sen. Barry Goldwater, R-Arizona, Rep. Sam Steiger, R-Arizona, and former GOP state chairman and friend Harry Rosenzweig. of long standing from Goldwater. .

Bolles told fellow reporters at the time that he was skeptical of the information, but thought he should verify it.

Although Bolles has been in critical or serious condition since the bombing, Dozer said fluctuations in his condition alternately give doctors cause for hope and pessimism.

“A few days ago I was optimistic about his recovery,” the doctor said.

Bolles’ condition for about 12 to 20 hours before his death was characterized by “slight deterioration” leading to sudden life-ending pulmonary complications, Dozer said.

He said Bolles’ doctors had foreseen the risk of a blood clot forming in the journalist’s body, but there was nothing they could do about it.

“He really wasn’t a candidate for anticoagulant therapy of any kind because he had so many bleeding issues,” the doctor said.

William R. Shover, Director of Community and Corporate Services for The Arizona Republic and The Phoenix Gazettealso spoke at the hospital press conference.

Shover warmly praised the doctors, nurses, nuns and security guards who lent their skills and emotional support to the effort to save Bolles and help his family.

“I think it all really eased the burden for Rosalie and the kids because they knew it was all done,” Shover said.

Dozer said Bolles’ wife bravely endured.

“You just couldn’t say enough about how she got through this,” he said.

Shover said Nina Pulliam, editor of The Arizona Republic and The Phoenix Gazette said “nothing will be left undone” in a bid to find and punish those responsible for Bolles’ death.

Rep. John Rhodes, R-Arizona, said he asked U.S. Attorney General Edward Levi to conduct a full investigation into Bolles’ murder.

Governor Raul Castro promised an attack “against those despicable elements of our society who caused his death”.

Lost in Time: The Don Bolles Files

We want to hear from you. Share what you remember about how the Arizona of Don Bolles’ days became the Arizona of today.

On the day La République published the obituary, it also included this notice in the upper right corner of the front page:

“A $25,000 reward has been offered by the Arizona Republic and the Phoenix Gazette for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the murder of journalist Don Bolles. Contributions from others have raised the reward fund to $32,145.

Also on the front page of the Republic, below the obituary, was this statement from Nina Pulliam, the editor of the Republic and the Gazette:

His cause must live

Don Bolles is dead. He gave the “last full measure of devotion” to those high principles on which he stood and fought so bravely and so effectively in his relentless war against crime in this community.

Don Bolles is gone, but the fearless and tenacious spirit that motivated and sustained him in his work – and in his heroic but lost battle for his life – will live on.

The Arizona Republic and The Phoenix Gazette do not intend for Don Bolles’ death to go unavenged. Deeper still than our deep sorrow is our anger and outrage at the monstrous violation of all human rights and the decency that is responsible for it. We will leave no stone unturned in our commitment to seeing justice done in this terrible tragedy.

We call on every element of our society to join us now in the ongoing fight – in Don Bolles’ lifelong fight – to eradicate forever the criminal elements that debase and terrify this community.

We could not rest if Don Bolles had died completely in vain.