Pat Fenton, a prince of a man and a terrific journalist, author and playwright, died on Wednesday January 5 in Massapequa, Long Island. He was 80 years old.
For most of his adult life, Fenton was a freelance writer, doing his writing at night or on weekends because he needed a steady civil service job as a New York corrections officer for 26 years to support his family. His first job as a cargo handler at JFK actually led to his first writing break in 1973 when New York Magazine published his piece, “Confessions of A Working Stiff”. Fenton had also worked as a cab driver, bartender and radio host. Over the years his work appeared in The New York Times, the Daily News, Newsday, Irish-America magazine, the Irish Echo and other publications. Fenton’s writing has also been published in numerous writing anthologies including “The Irish, a Treasury of Art and Literature” and the “Book of Irish Americans.’
Last July Heliotrope Books published Fenton’s “Searching for Harry Chapin’s America”, a book about where Chapin got inspiration for his songs and writings. Fenton went on the road to discover where Chapin visited, from far flung bars, barber shops and bowling alleys to hotels, coffee shops, diners and nightclubs all across America. Fenton worked on the book on and off for nearly 20 years. In reviewing the book, novelist Peter Quinn wrote: “A portrait of an age as well as an artist. Chapin was an American original, combining Walt Whitman’s lyric realism with Woodie Guthrie’s passionate truth telling. Fenton’s blend of sympathy, honesty and insight give us the man in full. Fenton’s talents as a master storyteller have never been on better display.”
His first play, “Jack’s Last Call: Say Goodbye to Kerouac,” had two successful runs in Jack Kerouac’s hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts, and, after appearing at the Boston Playwright’s Theatre, was selected as one of the best New England plays of 2008. Recently, the play has been released on CD as a radio drama. It has been heard on over 70 public radio stations across the country and was nominated for an Audie Award, an annual award given by the Audio Publishers Association. Another play, “Stoopdreamer,” about Windsor Terrace, the Brooklyn working class neighborhood where he grew up, ran on Off Broadway in 2015.
Windsor Terrace and neighboring Park Slope turned out many fine journalists and writers over the years including Pete Hamill, his brothers Dennis, John and Brian and his sister, Kathleen Hamill Fischetti, Joe Flaherty, Tim Lee, Billy Powers, Charlie Monahan, Robert Murphy and, of course, Pat Fenton.
Fenton is survived by his wife, Patricia, a son Patrick, a daughter Kelly and several grandchildren. — By Jack Deacy
Herbert Hadad, a beloved Silurians board member and an award-winning writer, who specialized in the topics of family and the Middle East, died on November 6 at his home in Pocantico Hills, New York. He was 85.
“He loved being a Silurian and knowing all of you,” Evelyn Hadad, his wife, who accompanied him to Silurians events, wrote in a letter to board members. “He enjoyed the board meetings, the lunches, the interesting speakers and the camaraderie and stimulating conversation around the table. I would like to think he will still be attending, just spiritually instead of in person.”
Herbert was born October 6, 1936 in upper Manhattan to Syrian and Jewish parents. His family soon moved to Boston where he grew up in the neighborhoods of Dorchester and Roxbury. He attended Roxbury Memorial High School and graduated with a Bachelor of Science from Northeastern University. He would tell you that the education that set the course of his life, however, took place in his early twenties working as a copy boy in the newsroom of the Boston Globe and in the ring moonlighting as a featherweight boxer in dusty gyms across Boston.
Intoxicated with the thrill of writing and covering the news, he would achieve a celebrated career as a reporter, essayist, public relations representative, speech writer, and press officer. He was the author of two books, Finding Immortality: The Making of One American Family, and Tender and Tough: 60 Years of Storytelling. His essays appeared in publications including The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, Parenting, Reader’s Digest, Poets & Writers, and several anthologies. He worked as a reporter for The New York Times, New York Post, Boston Globe and the Keene Sentinel of New Hampshire. He won writing awards from the New York Press Club, Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, Folio magazine and others.
Herbert had countless fascinating personal and professional tales along the way, but his most coveted adventure started in 1972 when he met Mary Evelyn Meekins in New York. They would marry in 1975, move to Tarrytown, New York, have three children, and then settle in Pocantico Hills where he lived for the last 40 years. His true dream was to be a father and family man. Many of his stories explore the pleasures and pains of marriage and fatherhood with humor, insight, and uncompromising honesty. He had an observational gift for reflecting on the multitude of life’s little wonders that take place every day, such as the uplifting conversation with a stranger in the park, the pleasure of waving to a passing train, or the investigation of his children’s questions on life. Much of his writing also explored the juxtaposition of his Arab and Jewish heritage. He was a fisherman, a marathoner, a romantic, a flirt, a joke teller, and a fighter who was quick to let you know if he felt he, his family, or his friends were being mistreated. He described himself as a tiger of a father who would do anything for his children, and all three would readily attest to that fact. He adored Evelyn, who was the secret hero in most of his stories. He lionized his parents from which he passed on many lessons, and he loved his country, his city, and a good martini. In fact, he was a founding member of the local Monday Night Martini Club.
He joined the 1972 presidential campaign of Senator Edmund Muskie of Maine as the deputy press secretary and spearheaded public relations for a fledgling educational children’s television program called Sesame Street. A character based on him named Herbert Birdsfoot appeared in a number of seasons. He taught writing at the Hudson Valley Writers Center in Sleepy Hollow where he also served on the Board of Directors and the Executive Committee. He was a governor emeritus of the Silurians Press Club and was a founding board member of the Friends of the Rockefeller State Park Preserve. He also started a cable television program called On Writing with his friend Benjamin Cheever. As a capstone to his career, he proudly served 18 years as a press officer for the U.S. Department of Justice for the Southern District of New York for six U.S. Attorneys including Mary Jo White, James Comey, and Preet Bharara, and received several distinctions for his work.
Herbert’s family includes his wife Evelyn, his son Edward Hadad and wife Adlin and their children Evan and Willow of Croton-on-Hudson, NY, his son Charles Hadad and wife Alice and their daughter Maya of Brooklyn, NY, his daughter Sara Le Brusq and her son Damian of New York, NY, and his sister Sylvia Rosenberg of Newton, MA. In addition to his immediate family, he had a wide circle of in-laws, cousins, nieces and nephews, friends, students, and colleagues he loved dearly. He was predeceased by his parents Morris and Norma Hadad of Boston and his brother Alvin Hadad of Oakland, CA.
Herbert revealed in his first book, “Finding Immortality,” that the title was chosen as a wish for his stories to live on after he was gone and, except for the names and places, for others to embrace the stories as their own. In the days preceding his passing, his family confirmed for him that not only would he achieve immortality through his stories on the page but also through the vivid memories, lessons, and appreciation from all those who loved him.
Judith Hole, who was with CBS News for some 50 years, the last 16 of which were as producer of “CBS Sunday Morning,” died June 17 at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. The cause of death, according to a family member, was Creutzfeldt Jakob disease, a neurodegenerative condition. She was 81.
Hole joined CBS in 1962. She produced an extraordinarily wide range of shows, including documentaries, magazine-length stories, breaking news stories, live studio segments and live remote segments, and she worked with some of the network’s best-known broadcast journalists. She worked on CBS News broadcasts as varied as “Walter Cronkite’s Universe,” “CBS Reports,” “America Tonight,” and “CBS This Morning,” for which she produced the weekly, live, half-hour segment, “At Home With . . . ”
During her career, she worked with such luminaries as Walter Cronkite, Charles Kuralt, Charles Osgood, Harry Smith, Mike Wallace, Lesley Stahl, Rita Braver and Martha Teichner. She was on the faculty of Maine Media Workshops, teaching a course called “The Art of the Interview.” At CBS, she often did the same thing, having to prepare anchors and correspondents for interviews with subjects from presidents to proletariats, from villains to victims.
Hole went to the Hewitt School, an all-girls independent K-12 school in Manhattan, then moved on to a high school in Westchester. She attended Middlebury College in Vermont and received her degree from Southern Methodist University. In 1979, she married Sam Suratt, then the chief archivist for CBS. Suratt, who died in 2014, was a Princeton graduate who helped launch a mentoring project of the university’s AlumniCorps known as the Project 55 Fellowship Program. For years, the Suratts housed Project 55 summer interns in their home on Manhattan’s Upper West Side, mentored them with professional advice and introduced them to New York’s cultural scene.
Judith Bender, a long-time Silurian who reported on politics and power brokers for Newsday for more than 30 years, died May 8 in her apartment in Manhattan. She was 87 and died of natural causes, according to a family member.
Bender, a native of Queens, N.Y., was a graduate of the University of Michigan and Columbia University. She began her career in journalism at two newspapers in Albany, the Knickerbocker News and the Albany Times Union. In May 1969, she was hired by Newsday and remained there until retiring in July 2000. During the 1970s and 1980s, she was a reporter in the New York State bureau and then the Washington, D.C., bureau. She later served as an editor.
Anthony Marro, a now-retired Newsday editor, recalled Bender as not only “one of the very best reporters covering state government,” but said she was responsible for the first major story Newsday broke on the Watergate scandal of the 1970s. Bender got a tip that G. Gordon Liddy, an undercover operative who was close to President Richard M. Nixon, was deeply involved in the Watergate burglary, he said.
“[Bender] called me and told me about it and I tracked down Liddy, who was listed in the phone book,” said Marro. “He was very calm and polite and said, ‘Please don’t take this personally, but I have no intention of talking about this ever.’ So we did more reporting and then wrote a story saying he had been fired and was a target of the investigation.”
Later, Bender worked with Earl Lane, former deputy chief of Newsday’s Washington bureau as part of a team that produced a highly acclaimed series called “The Permanent Government.” It focused on key non-elected Washington insiders who helped influence government policy and operations in the 1980s.
“She was someone who was widely respected in the newsroom,” said Rita Ciolli, who worked with Bender in Washington and is now editor of Newsday’s Editorial and Opinion pages. “She was one of the few early women who had very important reporting jobs.”
Ciolli said Bender was noted for the thoroughness of her research and the ability to dig for details, qualities that allowed her to handle the kind of assignments that ordinarily would fall on teams of reporters.
“She drove everybody crazy because she asked a lot of questions,” said Jim Klurfeld, retired chief of Newsday’s Albany and Washington bureaus, who worked with Bender for years. “But she’s the person you wanted there as the last person to see the copy before it went to press.”
Rosalind Massow, a reporter, editor and author who began her professional life as a copy girl at the New York Journal-American in the 1950s and went on to become an award-winning reporter, an editor of Parade magazine and president of the Newswomen’s Club of New York, died on May 5 at her home in Manhattan. She was 99.
Massow became a general assignment reporter at the Journal-American and won several Front Page Awards from the Newswomen’s Club, including one in 1960 for a series on anti-Semitism in the Soviet Union. She was the women’s editor at Parade from 1963 until 1970. From 1964 to 1966, while at Parade, she was president of the Newswomen’s Club. That club is now also 99 years old.
A native New Yorker, Massow was a graduate of Hunter High School and Hunter College.
In 1959, she married Dr. Norton Luger, a Clinical Professor of Medicine at Cornell University Medical School and a president of the Queens County Medical Society. He died in 2007, but not before they had traveled to more than 30 countries, trips that led Massow to write two books, “Now It’s Your Turn to Travel” in 1976 and “Travel Easy: The Practical Guide for People Over 50” in 1985.
Charles Strum, a senior editor at The New York Times, whose calm demeanor and dry sense of humor eased the tension created by many an ominous deadline, and who could improve other people’s copy with supreme skill, died of brain cancer on April 27 in a nursing home in Middlebury, Vt. He was 73 and lived in nearby Weybridge, Vt.
In his 35 years at The Times, Strum filled a variety of roles, among them assistant metropolitan editor, New Jersey bureau chief, editor of the weekly New Jersey section, deputy national editor, obituaries editor and associate managing editor. Known to every one as Chuck, he was born in Manhattan, graduated from Dickinson College in 1970 with a bachelor’s degree in history, and began his career as a journalist at The Hudson Dispatch in Union City, N.J. A year later, he was hired by The Record of Bergen County, N.J., where he was a reporter and an editor until 1976, when he joined Newsday as an assistant news editor. Three years later, he joined The Times as a copy editor.
In 1990, he and five Times reporters collaborated on “Outrage: The Story Behind the Tawana Brawley Hoax,” a book about the infamous case of an African-American teenager who falsely claimed to have been kidnapped and gang-raped by four white men in 1987.
Strum retired in 2014 and became an editor at The Marshall Project, a nonprofit journalism site that focused on criminal justice. For Strum, it was a reunion of sorts. His boss was Bill Keller, the site’s founding editor-in-chief and a former executive editor of The Times.
“Some editors edited stories; Chuck edited writers,” Keller told The Times following Strum’s death. “He made them better. At the start, being a start-up, we had some writers who had more promise than practice. Chuck didn’t just fix their stories, he helped them grow.”
Jane Furse, whose Texas twang, sophisticated style and abundance of energy made her a distinctive presence in the newsrooms of The New York Post and The New York Daily News, died on April 25 of ovarian cancer. She was 64.
Furse was born in Houston and raised on her family’s ranch in Bay City, Tex., about 80 miles away. She attended The Hockaday School, a girls’ prep school in Dallas, and went on to Wellesley College, graduating in 1979 with a BA in historiography, the study of writing history.
As part of the rewrite desks of two of the nation’s best-known tabloids, Furse was admired by her colleagues for the speed, accuracy and calmness with which she treated their reports from the field. Her duties consisted of taking phone calls from reporters, her Texas drawl a clear counterpoint to the grittier urban accents of her colleagues as they fed her the details of whatever story they were covering. Furse would ask them questions, dig for further details and weave everything into a single cohesive article — often in the face of looming deadlines. At the Post, she frequently worked with legendary crime reporter Mike Pearl, but handled stories about many other subjects, from airplane disasters to such oddball events as the National Chihuahua Race. In 1995, she left the Post and joined the News, where she spent the rest of her career.
Carl Spielvogel, who rose from humble beginnings in Brooklyn to forge formidable careers in advertising as chairman and chief executive officer of Ted Bates Worldwide, the world’s third largest ad agency, and in journalism, as the author of a six-day-a-week column at The New York Times, died on April 21 at a hospital in Manhattan. He was 92.
In addition to his business accomplishments, Spielvogel served for eight months in 2000 and 2001 as ambassador to Slovakia during the Clinton Administration. At the time of his appointment, he was running his own global investment and marketing company, Carl Spielvogel Enterprises, which he launched in 1997 and ran until 2009.
A reserved but amiable man, Spielvogel kept himself fit and was an avid tennis player into his 80s, often displaying the same kind of competitive fire on the court that he showed in board rooms. He attended public schools in Brooklyn, graduating with honors from Boys High School before taking courses at night at the City College School of Business, now known as the Baruch School of Business. He was hired as a copy boy by The Times in 1950, was awarded his BBA degree in 1953, then left The Times for two years in the U.S. Army. Following his discharge in 1955, Spielvogel returned to The Times as a financial news reporter and two years later he was named advertising columnist, a position that made his work must-reading in the advertising and marketing business and turned Spielvogel into a media celebrity.
In 1960, Spielvogel followed a path taken by many journalists, leaving his columns and The Times for the world of public relations. He was hired as a PR man by Marion Harper Jr., a well-known ad man who was president of McCann-Erickson and who later built Interpublic, McCann’s parent company. In 1972, after rising through the executive ranks, Spielvogel became Interpublic’s vice chairman, resigning from the company in 1979 when he was passed over for the job of chairman.
What followed was the extraordinary partnership between Spielvogel and a former colleague named Bill Backer, who had recently resigned as vice chairman of McCann-Erickson, Interpublic’s largest agency and one of Spielvogel’s employers early in his career. In short order, Backer & Spielvogel was in business. It would be something new in the ad game: a superagency, big in talent but small in scale. It went on to achieve stunning success with blue-chip clients such as Miller beer, Coca-Cola and Campbell’s Soup and it became legendary on Madison Avenue. It was eventually sold, going to Saatchi & Saatchi in 1986 for more than $100 million. In 1987, it merged with Ted Bates Worldwide. Spielvogel became chairman and ceo of the new firm, Backer Spielvogel Bates Worldwide, serving from 1987 to 1994.
Mike Santangelo, who worked for Fox News for 25 years and had one of the most unusual writing assignments in the news business, died on April 12 after suffering complications from a fall. He was 80 and died at NYU Langone Hospital-Long Island in Mineola.
Santangelo’s words — summaries of the day’s top stories — appeared on an LED display he called The Big Zipper. At 163 feet in length and 28 inches high, it runs across the facade of Fox News headquarters at 1211 Sixth Avenue, a 45-story building at the corner of 48th Street. Each item Santangelo wrote was roughly no more than 50 words — or, as described in a New York Times profile in 2005, no longer than it might take someone to walk a city block. Santangelo turned out about 35 items a day.
One aspect of his job many journalists might envy was that he had no editor. Another was that he was the sole arbiter of which items made it to The Big Zipper.
As befits a fellow who favored loud ties, Hush Puppies and linen suits, Santangelo’s nomadic news items were often preceded by lead-ins that were as colorful, clever and catchy as any headline splashed across the front page of any tabloid. News of a volatile day on Wall Street, for example, might be headlined “Dow But Not Out.” The lead-in to story of a four-star general who was fired: “Ain’t That a Kick in the Brass.”
Before joining Fox in 1996, Santangelo practiced more conventional forms of journalism. He was a reporter at The New York Daily News for 20 years, leaving in 1990 as a casualty of a newspaper strike. For the next six years, he worked for Reuters, UPI and Newsday, where he was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize for its coverage of the crash of TWA Flight 800 off Long Island.
William Condie was a veteran reporter and editor who started his career as a newspaperman in his native Glasgow in 1955, then served on publications in Buenos Aires, London and Florida before moving to New York, where he held news-editing positions at The Daily News and The Post. He was 86 and living in Florida when he died in West Palm Beach on Dec. 3, following kidney failure.
Condie was born in Airdrie, Lanarkshire, a town in Scotland’s lowlands industrial belt, on Feb. 28, 1934. A year later, he and his family moved to Glasgow, about 12 miles away. He would have begun school in 1939, but the bombing raids brought on by World War II meant thousands of civilians had to be evacuated from port cities such as Glasgow and moved to safer areas. Condie was one of them.
After living with relatives in a less-threatened part of Scotland, the family returned to Glasgow in 1942. After the war, Condie was drafted into the Royal Navy Corps d’Elite for two years. Interested in languages since he was a teenager, he learned Russian and was stationed in Germany, where his duties included monitoring Soviet radio communications.
In 1955, when Condie started his newspaper career in Glasgow, he learned more than how to be a reporter. He also became adept at editing copy and writing headlines as well as learning newspaper design and layout.
He went abroad in 1961, working for three years as night editor of the English-language Buenos Aires Herald. Next came London for a year before moving to the United States in 1965 and worked for three years as an editor at the National Enquirer in Florida. For the next 20-odd years, he worked for The News and The Post in New York. In 1991, he returned to Florida and rejoined The Enquirer until semi-retiring in 1995.
In his junior high school’s senior yearbook, it says that Jack Schwartz “a journalist will be/We know he’ll make it, wait and see.” It was, in the most definitive of ways, a self-fulfilling prophecy. Schwartz, who was the editor of his senior yearbook, wrote the words himself, and “make it” he did. He became a newspaperman for almost 50 years, distinguishing himself at six metropolitan dailies as well as one in Europe, as a reporter and columnist but mostly as an editor, with a focus on books and culture. Schwartz, who died on Feb. 16 of complications brought on by the Covid 19 virus, was 82.
His honors include a Neiman fellowship from Harvard (1971) and an International Affairs fellowship at Columbia (1972). In 2005, when he retired from The New York Times, where he spent the bulk of his career, he began giving back. He taught a Master’s Project course at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and was a mentor at the Writers Institute of the CUNY Graduate Center. He also taught copy editing at NYU. He was a 1959 graduate of City College of New York and a member of its Communications Alumni Group’s Hall of Fame.
At CCNY, Schwartz majored in English and was editor-in-chief of The Campus, the student newspaper. While still a student, he got his first jobs in journalism: copy boy at the Daily Mirror, then at the New York Post. Shortly after graduation, he joined the Long Island Press as a reporter, then went over to Newsday as a reporter and columnist. In 1973, he joined The Times and filled a variety of editing roles on the Week in Review, the Sunday Magazine, the Culture Section, the Arts & Leisure pages and the Metro Desk. Schwartz left The Times in 1988 and rejoined Newsday, this time as book editor. After seven years, he moved to the Daily News as book editor before rejoining The Times as assistant editor at the Weekend section, in addition to working on the daily culture pages. He remained there until he retired in 2005. And somewhere in the middle of that, he even enjoyed a short stint as an editor at the International Herald-Tribune in Paris.
Post-retirement, he freelanced articles for the Daily Beast and The Times of Israel, among others, and in 2015 he wrote about all of it in a memoir, “The Fine Print: My Life as a Deskman.”
Stephen Stoneburn, a former reporter and editor who took on a variety of roles for almost 20 years with Fairchild Publications before leaving to launch a multimedia company now known as Frontline Medical Communications, died Jan. 11 of esophageal cancer. He was 77.
A native New Yorker and a graduate of New York University, Stoneburn was a reporter and editor who became a senior vice president at Fairchild, his employer from 1970 to 1989. His accomplishments at Fairchild included heading the Paris bureau; overseeing Daily News Record, a publication covering the men’s wear industry; running Fairchild News Service, then a global network of business journalists; starting Sportstyle, a publication focusing on sporting goods; and spearheading the launch of W magazine in Europe.
After leaving Fairchild and returning to the U.S., he worked for Miller Freeman, then a publisher of trade magazines, and founded Quadrant Media as president and chief executive officer in 1996. By 2012, Quadrant had become Frontline Medical Communications, a multimedia company whose scores of publications and digital newsletters reach millions of readers in the healthcare industry. Stoneburn was chairman and ceo.
Ray Brady, a longtime Silurian and a prize-winning CBS News correspondent, died Jan. 12 at his home in Manhattan after a lengthy illness. He was 94.
A genial fellow with a shock of snow-white hair, Brady was a frequent presence at Silurian lunches and dinners along with his wife, Mary, who died in 2018. He began his 28-year career with the network when he joined CBS Radio in 1972 to host its “Today in Business” segment. In 1977, he became a familiar face on television as a correspondent for “CBS Evening News,” a post he filled until retiring in 2000. On that occasion, Andrew Heyward — then president of CBS News — hailed Brady for “his powerful sense of integrity, his genuine interest in the people he met along the way, and his unflagging passion for the next story.”
Brady covered such major news developments as the 1987 stock market crash in the U.S. and the crises created by the mix of oil and politics in the Middle East. He also wrote for CBS News’ “MarketWatch” financial website and was a contributor to “CBS Sunday Morning.” Shortly before he retired, Brady served as interim host for PBS’s “Wall Street Week.” He earned an Emmy in 1982 for a series of “Evening News” reports on unemployment amid the recession.
Brady was born in Philadelphia and raised in New Jersey. He served in the Navy during World War II and graduated from Fordham University in 1948 before launching his journalism career at New Jersey’s Long Branch Daily Record newspaper. Before joining CBS, he worked at Forbes, Barron’s and Dun’s Review.