Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Family reunion for John Dunphy
 

1970s State Desk reporter Cathy Strong, the kinetic kiwi, isn’t the only on gadding about the country seeing relatives.

Another former State Desk reporter, and part of the Pulitzer team for BJ coverage of the 1970 Kent State killings, John Dunphy, who lives in Lakewood, California with wife Rebecca Allen, is in Seattle.

 

His landing target: Three sons, seven grandchildren and two brothers.

 

John’s brother, Steve Dunphy, lives in Seattle.

John’s sons are Brian, Michael and Kevin.

John’s siblings are Harry Dunphy, Stephen Dunphy,  Pat Maureen Dunphy Welling, Peter Dunphy, Dennis Dunphy, Christine Dunphy Barnett and the late Paul Dunphy.

John has been dealing with esophageal cancer for 3 years. The survival rate averages about 5 years.

 

Monday, February 01, 2016

Wide income inequality leads to revolutions


$15 mimimum wage better for America than millions for the rich


Seattle, Washington billionaire Nick Hanauer explains why the income inequality that is savaging America’s middle class is bad for America.


In his 2012 speech, plutocrat Hanauer explains that the economy and the country prosper more if the poor and middle class incomes increase than if the incomes of the 1% get larger.


It’s simple math: 100 million people making $50,000 a year buy more products than 100 billionaires. For example, the 50K folks buy 100 million pairs of pants. Hanauer and his fellow plutocrats can’t possibly buy and wear even 1 million pants.


Seattle increased its minimum wage to $15 an hour. Instead of creating job layoffs, it became the fastest-growing major city in America.


Trickle-down economics is about as effective as a king pooping on his subjects.


Hanauer was on the ground floor of Amazon.com and other ventures and hands out a lot of his fortune to Washington state charities and to support public education, which is better for America than buying another yacht or airplane, which Hanauer already has.


To read this remarkable blueprint for helping America thrive, an avoiding the pitchforks and “off with their heads” that happened throughout history when a few have so much more wealth than the many, click on http://www.ted.com/talks/nick_hanauer_beware_fellow_plutocrats_the_pitchforks_are_coming

 

The richest cities in America are great for the rich, but a terrible gauntlet for those less fortunate.
1.   San Francisco — You'd need $124,561 to live comfortably. 50K a year wouldn’t come close.
2. San Jose —$115,515.
3. Washington, D.C. — $108,092.
4. Seattle — $93,634.
5. San Diego —$101,984.
6. Boston — $106,082.
7. New York City —$131,365 in Brooklyn, $169,639 in Manhattan, $116,907 in Queens.
8. Los Angeles — $102,061.
9. Denver — $82,036.
10. Austin — Surprisingly, in spite of the high percentage of people earning more than $150,000, you'd need only $72,912 to be comfortable in this Texas city.

 

Saturday, January 30, 2016


Orlando Sentinel may be forced to move

The company that once owned the Orlando Sentinel has put the buildings and two swuare blocks of land that the newspaper occupies up for sale.

The 18.69-acre property is at Colonial Drive and Orange Avenue in Orlando, Florida.

In 2014 the newspaper’s owners sold the Sentinel to newly created Tribune Publishing but kept the land.

If the land is sold, the Sentinel could be bought out of the lease and forced to move.

The Sentinel morphed from six previous Orlando newspapers.

Friday, January 29, 2016


From left: John Olesky, Pete Geiger, Sandy Geiger, son Bill, Paula
10 days before Pete passed away in his sleep
1st anniversary of Pete Geiger’s passing

It was a year ago today  that Pete Geiger, the best religion writer in BJ history, died in Florida only 10 days after Paula and I had another restaurant meal in Florida with Pete and wife Sandy (son Bill was there this time).


Paula posted a memory photo of our chew and chat:
 
“A Shock! Our friend, Pete Geiger, former Beacon Journal religion writer, died early today. John and I had lunch with him and his wife, Sandy and son Bill a couple weeks ago."

If you want to read the original blog article about Pete’s passing, click on



Golfing with Marlin Fitzwater

Today I played golf at Hill Top golf course with former Reagan and papa Bush White House Press Secretary Marlin Fitzwater and his wife, Minnie (born Melinda Andrews, but he called her “Minnie”).

I told him I worked for John Knight at the Akron Beacon Journal and he said he worked on newspapers, too. (In Kansas)

When his drive off #1 tee went far right, I told him, “I knew you would go to the right.”

He laughed. I said, “I guess you’ve heard that a lot.”

When we finished playing, I told him: “Well, you should be happy. A liberal Democrat just shot his highest score of the year.” He laughed again. He probably had a lot of practice at that during the Reagan and papa Bush years.

I had a 46, 2 above my previous worse, because I had 22 putts. Nothing went in. I  parred the final hole with a 3 because my chip shot was 6 inches from the pin. It raised my average to 39 (and dangerously close to 40).

Marlin and Minnie were very nice and friendly. They’ve rented in The Villages for about 8 years, but still live in Washington, DC.

Minnie and I romped in the sand together – no scandal here, just put our golf balls in 3 sand traps at the same time. We got a lot of practice blasting out of Florida’s most available product.

Marlin and I touched on politics, but it was a private conversation, so I’ll keep it to myself.

Marlin and Minnie were just two senior citizens enjoying sunshine, exercise and golf (he wouldn’t beat anyone in the Sunny Hill seniors golf league in Kent, Ohio), so I respected his privacy.

The Wikipedia on Marlin Fitzwater:

Max Marlin Fitzwater (born November 24, 1942) was White House Press Secretary for six years under presidents Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, making him one of the longest-serving press secretaries in history. He is one of three press secretaries (along with Stephen Early and Pierre Salinger) to serve in the position under two different presidents.

Fitzwater was born on a farm in Salina, Kansas. He graduated from Kansas State University in 1965 with a degree in journalism. While in school, he worked at newspapers in various Kansas communities before moving to Washington, DC upon graduation. He also served in the United States Air National Guard. Fitzwater is also a member of Delta Tau Delta Fraternity.

In Washington, Fitzwater served at various Federal agencies, including the Appalachian Regional Commission (1965–67), the U.S. Department of Transportation (1970–72) and the Environmental Protection Agency (1972–81). He served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public affairs at the Department of the Treasury from 1981 to 1982.

Fitzwater headed to the White House in 1983, serving as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Press Secretary for Domestic Affairs. He served as Vice President Bush's Press Secretary from 1985 to 1987.

When James Brady was shot in the assassination attempt on President Reagan in 1981, he was unable to return to work, though he retained the title of Press Secretary for the duration of Reagan's term. Others served under the title of "Assistant to the President for Press Relations"

In January 1987, Reagan made Fitzwater the Acting Press Secretary under the title of "Assistant to the President for Press Relations". He served in this capacity until Reagan left office in 1989.

When Mikhail Gorbachev first visited the United States, in Reagan's first term, Fitzwater gave joint press briefings with his Soviet counterpart. Over 7,000 journalists attended them.

When George H.W. Bush took over as president in 1989, Fitzwater was again tapped to be the presidential spokesman, this time with the title of Press Secretary.

Fitzwater received the Presidential Citizens Medal in 1992. He has worked on the television show The West Wing as a consultant. In 2002, Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, New Hampshire completed the Marlin Fitzwater Center for Communication in his honor.

In 2002, Fitzwater was interviewed by Ali G on Da Ali G Show where he (Fitzwater) became visibly hostile to the line of questioning, particularly when he was asked questions about Hillary Clinton's sexual orientation. He terminated the interview early and referred to him as "an idiot." Fitzwater later recalled that he had his doubts about conducting the interview after seeing Ali G, but thought that his gangsta rap appearance was simply appealing to his "hippie" audience. After the interview, he said he was "two steps away from calling the sheriff."

Fitzwater married Melinda Andrews in 1999. He has two children, Bradley and Courtney. He lives in a private community called Rest Haven in Deale, Maryland, a village on the Chesapeake Bay. Fitzwater was profiled on Retirement Living TV and on a web feature Talk2 on RL.TV talking about his career in Washington with John Palmer.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


40% of Wounded Warriors charity doesn’t go to help veterans

The Wounded Warrior charity, which lists its purposed as helping America’s veterans damaged by wars, spent 40% of its donations in 2014 for overhead, including administrative expenses and aggressive marketing costs.

That’s according to the charity-rating group Charity Navigator. Wounded Warriors got $372 million in 2015 donations. 

Semper Fi Fund, a wounded-veterans group, spent 8% of its donations on overhead.
Drone captures Moundsville prison video
This is an amazing video of Moundsville Penitentiary taken from a drone. Click on http://www.onlyinyourstate.com/west-virginia/wv-pen-drone/ to see it.


The castle-like structure is a smaller imitation of the Joliet prison that operated from 1876 to 1995 in Moundsville. Today, it’s a tourist attraction near the largest Indian mound in America.


96 men were executed there. Others were killed by other inmates.


The scariest thing, to me, after watching the video from the drone: How easy it would be for a terrorist to put a light explosive the size of a pack of cigarettes on a drone and then drop it just about anywhere in the world without prior detection.
It would be devastating.

Canton native Gary, Manchester's Frank & Tallmadge's John Olesky
3 Ohioans meet on Florida golf course

Today I was the 4th for 7 guys (2 foursomes) who play together weekdays for years, and have lived in The Viillages for five or more years.

During the introductions, I say my usual "John, from Akron, Ohio" (Tallmadge doesn't ring many bells).

One says he's Gary, born in Canton, lived in Minerva, then moved to Columbus where he worked for 30 years as American Electric Power IT (he kept the computers humming).  (Gary has the red shirt in the photo.)
 
Another says he's Frank, and lives in Manchester.

I tell him that Clarence Jones and his family, who own Classic Pools and have their business in Manchester, built my Cuyahoga Falls pool in 1983, which I used for more than two decades before Paula and I sold our homes and bought our condo in Tallmadge in 2006.  (Frank has the blue shirt in the photo.)

Frank says: "They're my neighbors.” The Jones family are quality people, as a business and as human beings.

The other guy was from near College Park, Pennsylvania, where my son-in-law graduated from Penn State. He took the photo of 3 Ohioans meeting in Florida in 70-degree weather (but no sunshine).

Small world, huh?

Tomorrow, I'll play golf with retired Beacon Journal printer Hugh Downing, whose
shoulder has recovered from a tree limb knocking him off his ladder, and Bob Page, former BJ reporter who entered the ministry after hearing Pat Englehart's salty language at Ol' Blue Walls. Bob is an associate pastor in the Villages.

And then hurry home to go out to dinner and play cards at the home of a couple we met in Summit County and visit when we're in The  Villages, the world's largest play sandbox for 114,000 senior citizens.

 With NO pars, I shot a 40 today at Hill Top, 2 above my 2016 Florida average. I id make a 12-foot putt on the longest, 316-yard hole, though. But not for a par.

It was my 14th round of golf in 24 days. It would have been more but I took a week off while Paula and I were in Siesta Key, her 2015 Christmas present to me on my favorite beach in the world.

I was happy that the line of thunderstorms moved beyond The Villages and into the Atlantic while we were scaring the White Ibises on the Hill Top course ponds.

Florida is one giant lake-effect from the Gulf of Mexico, but the storm line blows through and past America’s southernmost peninsula in a few hours.
 
And, unlike Lake Erie, NO snow in January.

 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Abe Vigoda dies; honest

Abe Vigoda is dead. It’s not a hoax this time.

Previous reports of his demise were, in Mark Twain’s words, “greatly exaggerated.”

Abe Vigoda dead this time
But the Fish of “Barney Miller” died Tuesday in real life. In Woodland Park, New Jersey.
 
With Fish, it was hard to tell if he was alive or dead.

He was 94.

He also died in “The Godfather” as Mafia soldier Sal Tessio (“It was only business.”)

"Barney Miller," set in a New York police station, starred Hal Linden and ran from 1975 to 1982.

Vigoda was a former straight man for comedian Jimmy Durante (“a dinka dinko do” schnozz guy).

His wives are dead, too. Both of them: Beatrice Schy and Sonja Gohlke.
Edith and Archie, together forever now


Stapleton stifled permanently

Actress Jean Stapleton, Archie Bunker's wife Edith on "All in the Family," died at age 90 in New York City.

Norman Lear, who produced and directed "All in the Family," posted: "Goodbye Edith, darling."

Stapleton won three Emmys for enduring Archie’s constant, “Stifle it, Edith.” Archie Bunker was played by the late Carroll O'Connor. He was America's favorite TV bigot.

The daughter of an opera singer and businessman, Stapleton grew up on Long Island and in New York City.

Calling her "our collective Mother, with a capital M," John and Pamela Putch -- Stapleton's two children with her husband William Putch, whom she married in 1957 and who died in 1983 -- said "her devotion to her craft and her family taught us all great lessons."

Reviled black lawn jockey once a beacon to freedom

Statues of black jockeys on the lawn, reviled nowadays as racist, once were a symbol of the road to freedom for African-American slaves.

Escaping slaves understood then that the jockey statue would guide them to the Underground Railroad and to freedom.

The jockey, in a similarly secret way, pointed to safe houses along the Underground Railroad.

"These statues were used as markers on the Underground Railroad throughout the South into Canada," said historian/author Charles Blockson, curator of the Afro-American Collection at Temple University in Philadelphia. "Green ribbons were tied to the arms of the statue to indicate safety; red ribbons meant to keep going."

Like so many things in history, original meanings get changed to something quite different over time. Gay, for example, once had nothing to do with sexual preference, but with having a happy time at a ballroom dancing party.

The meaning of words is like a snowball rolling down a mountain that changes its shape and impression by the time it reaches the valley.

Sunday, January 24, 2016


Bob Carpenter and wife Kaye dine aboard their cruise ship with Patti Kozlowski and her friend Barb Laimins.

Former AF buddy gone, Carp cruises with his widow
 
Kent State graduate and former WKNT news director  Bob Carpenter never did take a cruise with his former Air Force buddy, Richard “The Koz” Kozlowski. So he took one with Koz’s wife, Patti.
 
Bob’s wife, Kaye, didn’t mind. She was there, too, along with Mrs. Koz’s friends from the Aurora-Batavia-West Chicago, Illinois area.
 
They spent 7 days on the Allure of the Seas, stopping at Nassau, St. Thomas and St. Maarten.
Writes Bob:
“We had a wonderful time. We had a balcony overlooking Central Park in the middle of the ship open to the sky. Weather was warm until we got back Sunday morning to Ft. Lauderdale and it was 40 and windy.”
Last year Bob had a reunion with the third member of their Air Force intelligence training together – Dennis Maki, who located Bob through a Google search. They hadn’t seen each other in 40 years.
The three friends spent years gathering intelligence in places like Crete and Vietnam.
Bob and Kaye live in Punta Gorda, Florida. Paula and I hope to have our own reunion with them when I got to my Monongah High (West Virginia) alumni reunion next month. We expected more than a dozen to show up. It’s our 6th Florida reunion in 3 years, split equally between Punta Gorda and Sarasota.


Dawidziak Marking the trail again

PD and former BJ entertainment critic Mark Dawidziak is returning to one of his haunts Feb. 2 – The Center for Mark Twain Studies.

Two Marks -- Dawidziak and Twain
Wrote Mark:

Hoping for clear weather on Feb. 2, when I'll be packing up the white suit and heading for Elmira to help celebrate the Mark Twain Commemorative Coin Program with a performance for the Center for Mark Twain Studies. Proceeds from sales of the gold and silver coins go to the four corners of Mark Twain research: the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, Connecticut; the Mark Twain Papers at the University of California, Berkeley; the Center for Mark Twain Studies in Elmira, New York; and the Mark Twain Boyhood Home and Museum in Hannibal, Missouri.

Mark has performed at the Hartford Twain site.

He collected and edited one of many books, “Mark Twain's Guide to Diet, Exercise, Beauty, Fashion, Investment, Romance, Health and Happiness.”
He also plays Twain at the drop of an unlit cigar in Northeast Ohio and around the country. He gives Hal Holbrook a run for his money when it comes to Twain impersonation.
Good news about Hugh Downing

Sunday 1/24/16 retired BJ printer Hugh Downing, who lives in The Villages, Florida, emailed John Olesky:

“Rehab going OK. Will try swinging clubs this week.”

If Hugh is ready, then he can join John and his former State Desk co-worker, Bob Page, an associate pastor in The Villages, this Thursday for their planned golf outing.
 
To read earlier article about Hugh’s shoulder injury after his tumble from the ladder while trimming his tree, click on http://bjretirees.blogspot.com/search?q=Rehab+therapy+for+Hugh+Downing  

Saturday, January 23, 2016


Why Al Jazeera America failed

Why did Al Jazeera America news channel go belly-up, despite having less slant to its newscasts than Fox News?

The Qatar people pumping in the millions of dollars didn’t understand the American market. For one, the name alone put off cable companies and potential viewers, but Qatar was proud of it, and refused to change to something that wasn’t a buzzword for mistrust and hatred.

So major blocks of carriers refused to carry the channel.

At a time when CNN and Fox were drawing millions to watch the State of the Union coverage, Al Jazeera had about 70,000.
 
Slumping oil prices made the Mideast country that owned the channel nervous. They paid Al Gore $500 million for the channel but they couldn't fathom or overcome the inconvenient truths about America's cable news situation.

Lawsuits charging anti-Semitism and sexism didn’t help either.

As usual, when generals screw up, privates pay the price. About 700 will be out of work April 30.

Friday, January 22, 2016


‘30’ for Doug Balz


Doug Balz
Doug Balz, BJ  reporter in the 1970s, has passed away, former BJ Columbus Bureau reporter Bill Hershey, passed along the sad news.

His widow is one-time Knight-Ridder Features Editor Jane Scholz. They live in Washington, DC.



A loving, eloquent and stirring Facebook post by Jane Scholz:

My husband Doug Balz died peacefully at home in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday,

January 19, 2016, succumbing to cancer that was diagnosed only last fall and

that spread rapidly through his body. His passing came quickly, but only after a

rich and full life. His death leaves a void in all of us.

Doug grew up in a small, Midwestern town and went on become an award-winning

newspaper editor and reporter. His work touched thousands of lives throughout

the country. After retiring from newspapering, he used his talents as a teacher,

mentor and volunteer, enriching more lives with his generosity and wisdom.

“I understand writers and know what makes them tick,” he once said about

himself. “I know how to get the best work from writers—how to stimulate them,

how to challenge them.” Those who worked with him have been echoing those words

for many years.

Slowed in his last years by a condition that eventually robbed him of his

mobility, he nonetheless never stopped moving, traveling and doing. He loved his

family, his work and his hobbies. He was beloved for his sharp sense of humor,

his intellect and a searing commitment to a fair and equal society. He was 72

when he died.

Doug will be remembered by his daughters, Sarah and Annie, for his unconditional

love, affection and support throughout their younger years and on into

adulthood. He inspired in them a lifelong love of education and social justice.

He was playful and funny, making use of his talent for puns and corny jokes,

resulting in many teenage eye-rolls from his girls. He was always a supporter of

their pursuits, whether it was a love of tropical fish in childhood, a quest for

the perfect penne arrabbiata recipe or a dream to become a professional

photographer.

In support of his younger daughter Annie’s passion for Monet, Doug and Annie

took a trip to Paris together after her high school graduation, visiting every

museum with Monet’s work and making a day trip to Monet’s Giverny in the French

countryside. When his older daughter Sarah visited Paris later that year, while

studying abroad, he sent her his personal guidebook of the city, detailing some

of the same places he and Annie had visited.

His daughters also remember fondly the summer vacations they took together with

Doug and his wife Jane. Long, hot car trips with Paul Simon’s “Graceland” as a

soundtrack. Beach combing on Martha’s Vineyard. Listening to wild loons in the

Adirondacks.

Doug was born on June 30, 1943, in Freeport, Illinois, a town of roughly 25,000

people located in northwest Illinois about 100 miles west of O’Hare Airport. The

town is best known as the site of one of the most famous of the Lincoln-Douglas

debates, which as an adult Doug memorialized with a Lincoln bust and a Douglas

autograph in his study. Freeport was a vibrant community during Doug’s early

years and he led a rather idyllic childhood.

He was an avid reader even as a boy, often winning contests at the local public

library for the number of books read during the summer. At Freeport Junior High,

he met Barbara Penson, who would later become his first wife and the mother of

his daughters. In high school, he took her to the junior prom. He played in the

high school band, was a competitive debater and served as co-editor of the

yearbook, known as the Polaris, during his senior year. He was graduated in

1961.

After high school, he was off to the University of Illinois, eventually finding

his way into the journalism program. He was a gifted writer as a student, and

some of the papers he submitted for required classes showed the deft touch of

someone much more mature who knew and cared about the language and could

skillfully turn a phrase.

He earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism in 1966 and a master’s degree in

communications, also at Illinois, in 1968. While there, he won a Ford Foundation

fellowship to spend a year studying the Illinois legislature in Springfield,

where he spent time as an aide to the speaker of the House. In 1968, he won one

of the first fellowships at the newly created Washington Journalism Center.

After graduating, Doug began a doctorate in American Studies at the University

of Minnesota. While in the program, he taught English and journalism at the

University of Wisconsin at River Falls. He worked part-time at KUOM, the local

public radio station, where he produced programs on current events for children.

Among his colleagues at the station was a young Garrison Keillor. Doug found the

future chronicler of life in Lake Wobegone to be shy but talented.

Doug’s work on his doctorate came at the height of the era of New Journalism.

Like many young writers he was shaped by the works of Tom Wolfe, Gay Talese and

others who were developing a new form of journalism, one that combined

techniques of fiction to enhance nonfiction. Few took on the challenge of

writing novelistic nonfiction more enthusiastically than Norman Mailer, whose

coverage of the 1967 antiwar March on the Pentagon became the Pulitzer

Prize-winning book, “The Armies of the Night: History as a Novel; the Novel as

History.”

Doug was drawn to Mailer’s work, and his doctoral dissertation was an

examination of Mailer’s writing. It was entitled, “Art and Power: The

Interaction of the Fiction and Journalism of Norman Mailer.” A copy of the

dissertation is included in the collection of Mailer’s papers at the Harry

Ransom Center at the University of Texas in Austin.

As he finished his dissertation, Doug went to work at the Akron Beacon Journal.

There he was part of what Lary Bloom recalled a group of “whippersnappers who

thought they knew everything and were going to save the newspaper business with

their wit and wisdom.”

It was while he was at the Beacon Journal that Doug was awarded his Ph.D. Bill

Hershey, a fellow reporter, remembers some of Doug’s friends from the newspaper

parading through Doug’s house to the music of Verdi’s “Triumphal March from

Aida” to mark the milestone.

In 1976, Doug won first prize in the Ohio Press Association awards for an

investigation into the cause of leukemia deaths of workers at an area Goodyear

plant. The investigation contributed to a U.S. Labor Department decision to

limit benzene concentrations in work areas.

Doug also won an award for an investigation into irregularities in a local

counterfeiting case and for spot news coverage of education. Hershey recalled,

“He made life uneasy for the Akron School Superintendent but still got along

with him. The superintendent respected Doug because his work was good and

accurate.”

Doug showed off other talents in Akron. Bloom was the editor of the Sunday

magazine, and Doug played a variety of roles. It turned out that he was

particularly skilled at punning. Bloom recalled, “For a little item . . . about

a place that let customers cut down their own Christmas trees, he came up with

the headline, ‘Axe and Yule Receive.’ For a vegetarian restaurant, it was ‘Peas

in Our Time,’ and for gourmet dog food, ‘Clams on the Arf Shell.’”

In those days newspapers’ Sunday magazines were undergoing a major evolution, an

effort to bring great writing and big topics to what often were lowbrow

publications filled with cheesy advertising. Doug’s knowledge of literature and

Mailer in particular made him especially well equipped to take on the challenge.

Not long after, Doug moved from the Beacon Journal to The Miami Herald,

recruited by Bloom to become associate editor of Tropic magazine. His job

interview with the paper’s editor, John McMullan, was memorable. McMullan was a

gruff and sometimes intimidating editor. Over lunch in the executive dining

room, McMullan asked Doug what he could offer Bloom and the magazine if he got

the job. Doug thought about the question for a moment and replied with a

one-word answer: “support.”

Bloom at first thought it was an odd answer but later came to see how cogent

Doug had been. “He didn’t feel a need to offer a treatise on narrative

journalism, or the high ground, or anything like that. It was all implied,”

Bloom said.

McMullan told Doug, “That’s a good answer.” Doug was soon on his way to Miami.

He began working at Tropic in late 1978, and the Sunday magazine became one of

the finest in the country, stirring the pot in Miami by addressing Liberty City,

the Mariel boatlift and the city’s remarkably high murder rate, among other

issues.

“Doug was an unheralded force behind a great—if short-lived—phenomenon in

journalism, one that through storytelling and attaching themselves to a human

point of view was able to dig into the heart of issues in a way that news

stories couldn’t,” Bloom said.

With Doug as her editor, writer Madeleine Blais won the 1980 Pulitzer Prize for

feature writing.

“If anyone asks, I always say I owe my Pulitzer to my extraordinary colleagues

at Tropic Magazine of The Miami Herald, most especially to Doug,” she wrote.

In “Zepp’s Last Stand,” she told the story of a World War I veteran, a pacifist

who was dishonorably—and unfairly—discharged, who was going to Washington to

clear his name and record. With a pile of notebooks surrounding her, Blais

struggled to write the opening paragraph.

She recalled, “Doug sensed the agony in my inertia and said, gently, ‘When in

doubt, put the reader on the road. Learn from the best. If the journey motif was

good enough for Homer, surely it’s good enough for . . .’”

The lede flowed from there and, with Doug’s gentle hand and encouragement, so

did the rest of the story.

In Miami, Doug later oversaw an ambitious Cuba project that marked the 25th

anniversary of Fidel Castro’s rise to power. Eventually he was named editor of

Living Today, a department that included a daily features section, plus a weekly

food section, a weekly fashion section and a religion page. In 1985, he accepted

a Penney-Missouri Award for one of the three best feature sections in

large-circulation newspapers.

While in Miami, Doug and his first wife, Barbara Penson Balz, were divorced.

Even though he had a private office in Tropic, he often liked to edit amid the

hubbub of the city room. While sitting at a terminal on the city desk, he met

Jane Scholz, a fellow Herald editor. They were married on New Year’s Day 1983,

at the Vizcaya estate on the shore of Biscayne Bay. In the mid-1980s, Jane was

named publisher of the Gary, Indiana, Post-Tribune. Doug went to work for the

Chicago Tribune.

Within a few years, he had risen to become editor of the Tribune’s Arts section.

Later he was named managing editor of the Tribune’s Sunday magazine.” Doug was

one of the smartest, most exuberant, most curious and best-read editors I’ve

worked with,” recalled Mary Schmich, whom Doug would later describe as one of

the best writers he worked with in Chicago. “He loved to talk and argue. If

memory serves, he carried a fat Filofax (that dates a person!) in which he would

write down books he wanted to read.”

Schmich’s fondest memory is of the story that never actually came to pass, a

profile of Oprah Winfrey. “It was 1997 and Oprah rarely gave interviews but he

put in a call to her, hoping to make the Tribune’s case,” she said. “Some days

passed. It was clear she wouldn’t call back. Then one late afternoon she did.”

Doug stayed on the phone as long as he could, cajoling and trying to persuade

the reluctant Winfrey. In the end she said no. “I always admired his tenacity in

that and other pursuits,” Schmich said. “He was known as a meticulous editor not

afraid to think big.”

One of his think-big ideas came in the early 1990s. In the fall of 1992,

7-year-old Dantrell Davis was killed by a sniper’s bullet on his way to school

with his mother. Dantrell lived in the infamous Chicago public housing project

known as Cabrini-Green.

As a tribute to Dantrell, Doug conceived of the idea of an architectural

competition, sponsored by the Tribune, to reimagine public housing and to

redesign the acreage encompassing Cabrini-Green. “We’re saying to the community

that we’re all in this together,” Doug told Newsweek magazine at the time.

The competition, which promised no money and no likelihood that the design would

ever be built, drew 300 contestants from 10 countries, including architects

whose work was prominent in the city. The winners were a design team from Fargo,

North Dakota. The whole project spoke to Doug’s journalistic ambitions, his

creativity and his belief in the power of newspapers to make people’s lives

better and cities more livable.

In 1998, Doug took an early retirement from the Tribune and moved to Washington,

to join Jane, who had been moved several years earlier to become editor of the

then Knight-Ridder/Tribune News Service.

In Washington, he pursued a variety of activities. For a time, he served as an

adjunct professor of journalism at George Washington University. As a volunteer,

he mentored young people, helping them to learn to read and more. He taught

reading to a retired cleaning woman who had left school as a youngster to

support her family and wanted to learn to read well enough to enjoy novels and

join a book club. Thanks to Doug, she did. He also worked part-time in

bookstores and volunteered in the Prints & Photographs Division at the Library

of Congress.

Through painstaking genealogical research, he traced the Balz family of Freeport

back to its roots in Nurtingen, Germany, and a drawing of the church where he

found some key records hangs in his home. He also was the keeper and promoter of

the Balz Family Dressing, a somewhat heavy concoction of bread, potatoes and

sausage. “The BFD” was a staple of Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners.

Doug was as widely read as almost anyone we knew. He was an expert student of

photography, both of the work of well-known photographs and as a skilled

photographer in his own right. One of the finest photos he ever took, of a group

of restaurant workers at rest in downtown Chicago, hangs in his study.

 

Doug is survived by his wife Jane; two daughters from his first marriage, Sarah

Balz and Annie Balz Florin (Luke); two grandsons, Jack and Andy; and a brother,

Dan (Nancy). A memorial service will be held in March or April in Washington.

Memorials to the Library of Congress.

--

A final note from Sarah and Annie: Doug loved his daughters with tenderness and

tenacity. The most memorable demonstration of his love was the tradition of

ending every phone call for 20 years of childhood with the words, “I love you, I

miss you, and I think about you all the time.”

Dad, we do, too.
Condolences may be sent to Douglas Balz Facebook page and cards may be mailed to:


Jane Scholz

800 25th Street NW

Apt. 302

Washington, DC 20007

For the earlier BJ Alums article on Doug being ill, click on http://bjretirees.blogspot.com/search?q=Doug+Balz+seriously+ill