Jonathan Blake

Jonathan Blake, communications lawyer, dies at 85

At Covington & Burling, he was at the forefront of law related to satellite communications, cellular phone service and broadband technologies.
By Washington Post staff
May 29, 2024 at 5:35 p.m. EDT

At the time, political allies of President Richard M. Nixon — embattled by the Watergate scandal — were challenging the renewal of The Post’s ownership licenses of two TV stations in Florida. The FCC renewed both licenses in 1975, a year after Nixon resigned.

Jonathan Dewey Blake was born in the central seaside New Jersey town of Rumson on June 16, 1938, and attended the Rumson Country Day School, where his father was co-founder and headmaster and his mother worked as secretary, business manager and accountant.

He graduated in 1956 from the private Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts and in 1960 received a bachelor’s degree in history from Yale University, where he was captain of the cross-country team. He was a Rhodes Scholar at Trinity College, part of the University of Oxford in England, before receiving his law degree from Yale Law School in 1964.

His first marriage, to Prudence Rowsell, ended in divorce. In 1977, he married Shriver, a cousin of Peace Corps founding director R. Sargent Shriver. In addition to his wife, of Washington, survivors include three daughters from his first marriage; two children from his second marriage; a brother; and eight grandchildren.Jonathan D. Blake, a communications lawyer at the forefront of helping shape legislation, licenses and treaty provisions related to satellite communications, cellular phone service and broadband technologies, died May 21 at a hospital in Arlington, Va. He was 85.

The cause was complications from Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia, a rare type of blood cancer, said his wife, Elizabeth Shriver.

Mr. Blake, a past president of the Federal Communications Bar Association, spent his career (1964 to 2013) at Covington & Burling, the firm where he became head of the communications and media practice as well as chairman of the management committee.

Mr. Blake said the most important legal matter of his early career (“a huge break which lasted three years”) involved representing The Washington Post, a Covington client, before the Federal Communications Commission in the early 1970s.

At the time, political allies of President Richard M. Nixon — embattled by the Watergate scandal — were challenging the renewal of The Post’s ownership licenses of two TV stations in Florida. The FCC renewed both licenses in 1975, a year after Nixon resigned.

Jonathan Dewey Blake was born in the central seaside New Jersey town of Rumson on June 16, 1938, and attended the Rumson Country Day School, where his father was co-founder and headmaster and his mother worked as secretary, business manager and accountant.

He graduated in 1956 from the private Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts and in 1960 received a bachelor’s degree in history from Yale University, where he was captain of the cross-country team. He was a Rhodes Scholar at Trinity College, part of the University of Oxford in England, before receiving his law degree from Yale Law School in 1964.

His first marriage, to Prudence Rowsell, ended in divorce. In 1977, he married Shriver, a cousin of Peace Corps founding director R. Sargent Shriver. In addition to his wife, of Washington, survivors include three daughters from his first marriage; two children from his second marriage; a brother; and eight grandchildren.