AAPA Mourns Peter Stephens
Peter Stephens, a long-time Daily Mirror Paris bureau chief and one of the towering figures of the post-World War II foreign press corps, died at his home in the 16th arrondissement on Sept.30. A former president of the AAPA, he was 92.
Born inEnglandin 1919, Peter first became fascinated byFrancewhen he arrived with the British Army during World War II. He had been training to be a doctor when the war interrupted that career. Peter sailed back across the Channel after he was demobilised and first worked in broadcasting, for the English service of RadioFranceand as a freelance for the BBC.
It was in 1954, asFrance’s war inAlgeriawas looming, that Peter joined the Mirror where he was to remain for 30 years until his retirement. It was a time when the lives of stars such as Brigitte Bardot, Yves Montand and Simone Signoret, and of intellectuals such as Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus filled the columns of the foreign press.
Peter’s career took him through the rule of seven presidents, from Vincent Auriol under theFourthRepublic– through the upheavals that led to Charles de Gaulle’s founding of theFifthRepublicand May 1968 — to François Mitterrand, who entered the Elysée three years before Peter retired. Into the 1970s, the Mirror bureau inParisnumbered a dozen journalists including photographers. Tall, slim and always impeccably dressed, Peter was one of the few active correspondents to obtain a senior management role, when he was appointed a director of the Mirror Group, giving him a say in company policy.
Peter enjoyed a long and busy retirement, travelling with his American wife, Alice, toCaliforniamost summers until he fell ill about a year before his death.
At Peter’s funeral at Père Lachaise on Oct. 6, some colleagues learned of another facet of Peter’s life – as a leading light in freemasonry on both sides of the Channel, even co-founding a new lodge in the English ChannelportofDoverin the late 1990s named “Entente Cordiale.”
Peter is survived by Alice and two children, Richard, who divides his time betweenNorfolk,England, andNormandy, and Anne, who lives inBrisbane,Australia.