Kennett Love, a foreign correspondent for The New York Times who covered tumultuous events in the Middle East in the early days of the Cold War, died of respiratory failure on May 13 at the Hamptons Center for Rehabilitation and Nursing in Southampton. He was 88 and a resident of Sag Harbor.
According to an obituary published in The New York Times on May 17, “Mr. Love was in Tehran in August 1953 when the CIA executed a successful plot to overthrow Mohammed Mossadegh, Iran’s democratically elected prime minister, and replace him with Gen. Fazlollah Zahedi, a loyalist to Shah Mohammed Reza Pahlavi, who had close ties to the United States. … Mr. Love’s reporting may have played a small part in the coup. He and a reporter for The Associated Press wrote about decrees signed by the Shah that called for General Zahedi to replace Mr. Mossadegh. The release of the decrees, which helped legitimize the coup, was engineered by the CIA, though Mr. Love insisted later that he had been unaware of the agency’s involvement.”
While reporting for The Times, he also covered the Suez Canal crisis in 1956 and wrote a book about it, “Suez: The Twice-Fought War,” published in 1969.
Born in St. Louis on August 17, 1924, he attended Princeton University and was a pilot in the Navy Air Corps during World War II. After the war, in 1946, he married Felicite Pratt, who predeceased him in 2002, and continued his studies at Columbia University. He began his career in journalism at The Hudson-Dispatch in Union City, New Jersey, and joined The Times in 1948, working in the morgue before becoming a reporter in 1950.
In 1962, he left The Times to work as contributing editor for the magazine, USA1; the magazine, of which he was a founding stockholder, went out of business after only five issues. From 1964 to 1968, he was an associate professor at Princeton University’s School of Oriental Studies, during which time he wrote his book on the Suez Canal. He went on to teach journalism at the American University in Cairo and worked for the Peace Corps. He was the Cairo correspondent for ABC News covering the 1973 war.
On the East End, he taught celestial navigation at the East Hampton Marine Museum, organized a Shakespeare reading group in East Hampton, and cruised from Sag Harbor to Maine in an 18-foot ketch-rigged open skiff in 1983.
Mr. Love is survived by two daughters, Mary Christy Love Sadron and Suzanna Potter Love; two sons, John and Nicholas; two sisters, Mary Lehmann and Nathalie Love; and five grandchildren. He is also survived by niece and nephew, Rue and Alex Matthiessen; and his partner, Blair Seagram.