Monday, January 11, 2016

Doug Balz seriously ill

Doug Balz, BJ  reporter in the 1970s, is having major health problems.

Both former BJ Columbus Bureau reporter Bill Hershey and Doug’s brother, Dan Balz, said it might help Doug if his former BJ colleagues send him prayers and best wishes.
Doug with grandson Jack Florin on Jack’s 7th birthday in Missoula, Montana.

Doug’s address is:

Doug Balz

800 25th Street NW

Apt. 302

Washington, DC 20007

Doug left the BJ to go to Miami to work on the magazine with Lary Bloom, another former BJ editor. Doug edited the daily feature section for a couple of years, divorced his first wife, remarried wife Jane Scholz, who later became the publisher at the Gary, Indina paper. Doug worked nearby with the Chicago Tribune, where he became Sunday Arts section editor.

Doug’s music critic at the Trib? John von Rhein, former BJ music critic.

Doug advanced to features copy desk chief before he retired in 1998 and moved to Washington to be with wife, Jane, who had become the head of Knight Ridder-Tribune features.

Later, Doug took a part-time job at a bookstore and taught beginning reporting for a year at George Washington University.

Doug and Jane live at the Washington address.

He has two daughters, both born in Akron, from his first marriage. Sarah, who was born in 1975, lives in Bellingham, Wash. and works for the university there. Annie, who was born in 1978, lives in San Francisco, works with retarded children and is married.

Bill Hershey wrote this tribute to Doug:

“Doug combined the depth and understanding of an intellectual – he really was one – with the curiosity and drive of a good reporter to turn out great stories for the Akron Beacon Journal in the 1970s.

“For some unknown reason, I gave him the nickname “Dugout” and Doug seemed to enjoy it. He took his work seriously but could laugh at himself.

“After Doug got his doctorate a group of us marched through his house to the accompaniment of Verdi’s ‘Triumphant March from Aida.’

“Doug liked to do investigative work but could crank out daily copy and cover a beat when needed. 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.

“He and I were part of an unofficial group of reporters who often worked for an editor, (the late) Pat Englehart, who was known as the 'Mad Man.' Pat smoked awful smelling Italian cigars (DeNobili), sometimes had a few drinks at lunch (Rolling Rock) and still could come back to the office to lead coverage of a major fire, train derailment or other catastrophe. No story was ever good enough for Pat.

“He drove all of us crazy and Doug and the rest of us loved it. Doug also worked with Pat on some major investigative pieces that I think won prizes.

“Most importantly for me, Doug was a good friend and I remember our times together with great fondness.

“Bill Hershey”

I second Bill’s emotion about Patrick T. Engehart, the Tasmanian devil on the State Desk. Pat was put in charge of the BJ’s coverage of the 1970 Kent State killings of 4 students and wounding of 9 others by the Ohio National Guard, sent there by Gov. James Rhodes.

Pat herded reporters as obsessively as collies guarding and guiding sheep, gathered boxes and boxes of notes, photos and other evidence that threatened to overwhelm the BJ storage area.

The result? The BJ won its first Pulitzer Prize, if you don’t count the one that went to John S. Knight. I think 3 more came along, but the first I the one you remember most fondly.

By the way, I endorse Doug’s 2005 opinion of the BJ during the JSK days: “It's a great place, even if that office in the corner is no longer occupied by the man himself (so what if he paid his trainers more than his reporters).”
JSK's love of thoroughbreds was imbedded deeply. He had a horse, Fourth Estate, in the Kentucky Derby, and left Miami for Churchhill Downs for the Derby every year, then came to Akron for the summer.

Indeed, Doug. I worked on six newspapers, including the Dayton Daily News and the legendary Nelson Poynter’s St. Petersburg Times, and Jack Knight was the best owner I worked for during my 43-year newspaper career.

Ben Maidenburg was the best publisher during my career and Patrick T. Englehart, with the late Harry Liggett cleaning up after the PTE hurricanes, was the best editor and assistant editor I ever worked under and with (as State Desk assistant editor).

While I’m at it, Scott Bosley was the best of the 13 managing editors in my life, and not because he was a fellow WVU graduate. But because he let you give your opinion, and everyone else at the table, considered it, took the best from each of us, and made a decision.

Scott didn’t want “yes” men. He wanted a great newspaper. And he got it.
When Scott left the BJ for Detroit, I was his man Friday who handled the details of projects for him, including saving the BJ 300K (management estimates, not mine) by phasing out typewriters requiring frequent, expensive repairs and hustling the BJ into the computer age as the newsroom electronic coordinator.

Scott is retired in Michigan.

By the way, I ran into a guy from Keyser, West Virginia,  in The Villages, Florida. He didn’t know Scott but he did know former BJ sports editor and columnist Tom Melody, retired in Akron.

Sorry, Scott, but you came in second to Tom this time. Both Scott and Tom are in the Keyser High School Hall of Fame. Scott spoke at Tom’s enshrinement.

Keyser, for those who are not Mountaineers, is in the eastern panhandle of the state.

Bill Hershey added this thought about former BJ sports columnist Tom Melody:


Forgot to second your emotion on T Melody.

He wrote my favorite sports lede:

"It was Halloween and the Browns came to the stadium dressed as football players."

He also let me work on Friday nights taking scores to make extra $ when we had

little Bill H.
Indeed, papa Bill, Tom could be very Grantland Rice-ish. His writings are a melody (sorry, couldn’t help it) that play it again, Sam (sorry, again), in my mind.

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