Don Oberdorfer was born May 28, 1931 in Atlanta, Georgia to Dorothy Bayersdorfer Oberdorfer and Donald Oberdorfer, Sr. He grew up there, attending public elementary and high schools and then Princeton University, graduating in 1952. He was immediately commissioned as a second lieutenant for the Korean War but arrived at the time of the armistice and did not face action. After, he used his Army pay to travel around the world. In 1955 he returned and got his first newspaper job in Charlotte, North Carolina and stayed in journalism until 1993, when he retired from the Washington Post.
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Nicoll, Don, "Oberdorfer, Don oral history interview" (2001). Edmund S. Muskie Oral History Collection. 312.