Obits

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Russell Baker

Russell Baker, a longtime Silurian whose “Observer” column enlivened The New York Times for 36 years, earned the first of his two Pulitzer Prizes, and secured his place as one of America’s best-known humorists, died Jan. 21 at his home in Leesburg, Va., following complications of a fall. He was 93. Baker started as a night police reporter at The Baltimore Sun, eventually becoming The Sun’s man in London and at the White House. His work caught the eye of James Reston, then the Washington bureau chief of The Times, who hired him in 1954. After covering Washington for several years, he became a Times columnist in 1962 and was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for distinguished commentary in 1979. His second Pulitzer, in 1983, was for “Growing Up,” his best-selling autobiography. Baker produced 15 books, some of them collections of his columns, and wrote for numerous magazines including Life, Look, Readers’ Digest, the Saturday Evening Post, and Ladies’ Home Journal. After he retired from The Times in 1998, he wrote essays for The New York Review of Books on subjects such as politics, history and journalism. He also became a familiar face on television, succeeded Alistair Cooke as host of “Masterpiece Theater” on PBS from 1993 to 2004.

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Frank Litsky

Frank Litsky, a stalwart of the New York Times sports department from 1958 until retiring in 2008, died at his home in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 30 after a brief illness. He was 92. Litsky was a hard-working, award-winning reporter and editor whose breadth of knowledge allowed him cover 44 different sports for The Times, from archery to wrestling and from luge to cricket. He also covered eight Olympic Games and 15 Super Bowls, but he might have been best-known for his coverage of track and field and swimming. He was president of the New York Track Writers Association for 40 years, and in 1997, he became the first newspaper journalist named to the media wing of the International Swimming Hall of Fame. In addition, for a 36-year period, Litsky wrote yearbooks for the Encyclopaedia Britannica, World Book and Collier’s, along with “Superstars,” a 1975 coffee-table book.

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Leo Meindl

We learned only recently that Leo Meindl, longtime board member and former treasurer of the Silurians, had died — almost two years ago, on Jan. 26, 2017, at the age of 96. Leo was a reporter for the Long Island Press for more than 30 years. He lived in Brooklyn most of his life, but in 2014, following the death of his wife, Berthe, to whom he’d been married for 68 years, he moved to Fairfield, Conn., to be with his son. In the two years since his death, not a single piece of mail sent to him from the Silurians was returned, so there was no reason for us to believe that he was gone. That changed on Monday, Dec. 10, when the November issue of the Silurian News was returned to us with the word “expired” scrawled on the envelope. A few minutes of internet research confirmed that he was indeed gone, and even though it happened a couple of years ago, we remember Leo and we honor the statement on our membership cards, “A Silurian is never forgotten.”.

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Richard E. Mooney

Richard E. (Dick) Mooney, who spent most of his long career with The New York Times, died of cancer on Jan. 10. He was 91. Mooney, who specialized in reporting on financial and economic affairs, joined the Washington bureau of The Times in 1957, working alongside such Times titans as James Reston, Russell Baker and Anthony Lewis. Subsequently, he moved to Paris as a correspondent, then returned to New York, where he served as assistant to Reston (then the executive editor), deputy foreign editor, and editor of the Sunday business section. In 1976, he left The Times to become executive editor of The Hartford Courant before rejoining The Times in 1982 as a member of the editorial board under Max Frankel, then editor of the editorial page. Mooney retired in 1997.

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