Carmine (Jack) Cerino
Carmine (Jack) Cerino, a long-time Silurian who launched his journalism career as a general assignment reporter shortly after World War II at the now defunct New York Daily Mirror and went on to become a color photo editor at The Associated Press, died on Feb. 20. He was 93.
Cerino, who grew up in the Bronx, was a teenager at the start of World War II, but enlisted in the Navy and became a Seabee. He served for three years, including duty in the Pacific Theater of War, and rose to the rank of Yeoman 2nd Class. After the war, following his graduation from Iona College, he pursued a career as a newsman.
In 2015, along with other veterans of World War II, Cerino was recognized for his military service with an “honor flight” from Westchester County Airport to Washington, D.C., and thanked for his service.
Mitchel (Mike) Levitas
Mitchel (Mike) Levitas, an award-winning journalist who in his 37 years at The New York Times filled a variety of leading roles that took him from the Metropolitan Desk to the Foreign Desk, and to the editorship of key special sections as well as to the Office of Book Development, where he was editorial director, died June 22 at his home in New Marlborough, Mass., from Alzheimer’s disease complicated by pneumonia. He was 89.
Levitas, known as “Mike” by virtually all of his friends and colleagues, was a native New Yorker. Born in the Bronx, he attended Brooklyn College, where he majored in English, edited the school newspaper and graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1951. His father, Samuel (Sol) Levitas, was an editor of The New Leader, a Social Democratic weekly, and upon graduation, Mike Levitas immediately embarked on a career in journalism. His first job: working on the Russian Desk at the Voice of America. Two years later, he was reporting for The New York Post and in 1957, he won a Gorge Polk Award for exposing the exploitation of Puerto Rican workers by labor racketeers. In the late 1950s, he completed a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University prior to joining Time Magazine as an assistant editor.
Levitas was hired by The Times in 1965, first as an editor-writer at the Sunday Times Magazine until 1970, when he shifted to the Metro Desk for six years, eventually becoming its editor. Over the next two decades, he was editor of The Week in Review, the Sunday Book Review, the Weekend Edition, and the Op-Ed Page. He was named deputy foreign editor in 1995 and in 2002 was asked to become editorial director of the Office of Book Development. Although he officially retired that year, he continued as a consultant to that office until 2014.
In 1969, Levitas wrote “America in Crisis,” a chronicle of the social upheavals of the 1960s that was accompanied by images from the Magnum photo agency. In 2002, he was a co-editor of “A Nation Challenged: A Visual History of 9/11 and Its Aftermath.” He was also a visiting scholar at the Woodrow Wilson Foundation; a visiting professor of journalism at Princeton University; an adjunct professor of critical writing at Hunter College; and book editor at Moment magazine.
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.
Wolfgang Saxon, a veteran Silurian and a New York Times reporter for close to 50 years, died of cardio-pulmonary disease on May 1 at Amsterdam House, a nursing and rehabilitaton facility in Manhattan. He was 88. Saxon had been dealing with heart problems since 2002, when he suffered congestive heart failure, but battled back and continued at The Times for an additional four years before retiring in 2006.
He was born Wolfgang Richter in 1930 in Leipzig, Germany and grew up in Germany during World War II. He witnessed the fire-bombing of Dresden by Allied bombers in 1945, eventually made his way to West Berlin and arrived in New York in 1952. He became an American citizen, changed his surname to Saxon because he came from Saxony, and worked his way through night school at Columbia University, graduating Phi Beta Kappa in 1954 with a degree in economics. He was drafted into the U.S. Army and spent most of a two-year hitch in Alaska, rising to sergeant. Returning to New York in 1956, he enrolled at Columbia University’s Russian Institute, took a journalism class and was hired by The Times as a night copy boy. Over the next 50 years he became a radio script writer for WQXR, The Times’s radio station; a general assignment reporter; a rewrite man, and an obituarist.
The breadth of his subject matter was staggering. Spanning the eras of print and digital journalism, Saxon wrote some 3,600 articles for The Times on subjects including murders, fires, court cases, snowstorms, plane crashes, labor strikes, government and education, profiles of people and nations, and backgrounders on foreign insurgencies and political upheavals. While in his last decade, he wrote hundreds of obituaries, sometimes three in one day.
Joan D. Siegel
Joan D. Siegel, a long-time Silurian who was an officer and board member from the 1990s until 2012, when she stepped down from the board and from her post as Secretary but remained an active member, died on Oct. 6, 2018. She was 93. After graduating from New York University, Siegel was hired by the Long Island Press, becoming editor of what was then referred to as the women’s page. She also taught English in the New York City public school system and was a board member of the West End Day School.
George Silverman, who combined his love of journalism with a career as an electrical engineer, died on July 14 at Abington Memorial Hospital in Abington, Pa., following complications resulting from a blood disorder. He was 82. Silverman was born in Boston and was a graduate of Northeastern University, where he studied engineering. Following military service with the U.S. Air Force for almost four years in the 1950s, he worked in the communications services department of Lockheed Martin and at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. He was an active member of the Jewish War Veterans of the United States of America and in 1973, was named editor of JWV, the organization’s magazine. He continued in that role until 1986.