Joseph Rago (Pulitzer Prize Board)
Rago, 34, who was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for his editorial writing in 2011, did not appear at work on July 20, worrying his colleagues. The NYPD was called after WSJ editorial page editor Paul Gigot raised concerns with the newspaper’s security. When officers entered his East Village apartment, they found Rago unconscious and emergency responders declared him dead at the scene.
The WSJ reports that the Medical Examiner determined that Rago “suffered from the inflammatory disease sarcoidosis, which affected his lungs, heart, spleen, hilar and mediastinal lymph nodes… Sarcoidosis is the formation of tiny clumps of inflammatory cells in one or more organs of the body, according to the Foundation for Sarcoidosis Research. Chronic inflammation can lead to permanent thickening or scarring of organ tissue… The disease mortality rate is about 5%.”
In an editorial, the WSJ gave more details about the disease, adding, “Many of our readers have wondered what happened to a seemingly healthy 34-year-old, and the medical examiner’s summary is now a definitive public record. Joe was a brilliant journalist who died too young, but we were fortunate to have worked with him and benefited from his intelligence, his curiosity and a wit that informed and enlightened readers and all of us who knew him as a friend.”