A Magazine by the Society of Professional Journalists

Obituaries – March/April 2010

By Quill

Remembering SPJ members who have died. Submit information to editor Scott Leadingham at sleadingham@spj.org


Jim Perry, an SPJ member since 1986, died Dec. 3 in a car accident. He was 69. By trade he was a firefighter, union member and journalist, having edited The Los Angeles Firefighter newspaper since 1970 and served as executive editor of American Firefighter magazine. His journalism and communications work for labor and trade publications earned him numerous awards from the Greater Los Angeles Press Club, Western Labor Communications Association, International Labor Communications Association and International Association of Firefighters. Born in Oakland, Calif., he and his family moved to the San Fernando Valley, and he eventually served in the U.S. Army, Army Reserve and California National Guard. He became a firefighter in 1961 and worked for over 20 years with the Los Angeles Fire Department. In 1963 he was awarded the Red Cross National Life Saving Award of Merit for use of the relatively new CPR procedure. He was voted an honorary lifetime member of the Press Photographers Association of Greater Los Angeles in 2005. The union to which to belonged, United Firefighters of Los Angeles City Local 112, made a tribute to Perry on its Web site, uflac.org.


R. Edward Jackson, an SPJ member since 1943, died Feb. 5. Born in Mount Airy, N.C., in 1925, Jackson began his 44-year journalism career early when he ran a neighborhood newspaper at age 12. Among his many accomplishments, Jackson began Time magazine’s international editions, was the last managing editor of the Washington Star, served in the Navy at the end of World War II, and gave back to journalism schools and associations as a financier or active participant. In 1947, Jackson was a foreign news writer at UPI and worked in the London bureau and the Rome bureau before becoming a writer at Time in New York in the late 1950s. At Time, Jackson continued his international journalism as the Rome bureau chief, the foreign news desk editor and editor of the international editions, in addition to various other responsibilities. He was also a devoted North Carolina sports teams fan, father of two and grandfather to three.


Gene Chamberlin, an SPJ member since 1953, died July 20 after battling Parkinson’s disease for several years. Chamberlin’s wife, Margy, wrote to SPJ: “Journalism was his life.” Born in Iowa, Chamberlin received a journalism degree from Iowa State University and developed a strong newspaper career. After serving in the U.S. Army, he followed a long-held dream to own a newspaper at age 30, moving his family to Mobridge, S.D., to purchase the Mobridge Tribune. During his time in South Dakota, Chamberlin and his wife established the Tribune South Dakota State University journalism internship and scholarship program. Chamberlin continued to give back to journalists and the community through his newspaper consulting business, by teaching a newspaper management course at South Dakota State University and by funding the annual Chamberlin Lecture at Iowa State. He was also inducted into the South Dakota Newspaper Hall of Fame.


SPJ member Alexander Bodi died Nov. 23 in Utah at age 94. Born in Hungary, Bodi moved to Connecticut at age 6. He left the state to study at the University of Missouri, University of Chicago and San Francisco State University. He served in World War II and spoke or studied English, Hungarian, German, Chinese, French and Italian. His international interests also took him around the world, including being part of a team of editors sent by the State Department to stage journalism seminars for two months in East and West Africa. He also built a newspaper career, working with various newspapers in the U.S. as a reporter, editor, news editor, copy editor and bureau chief. Bodi joined SPJ in 1954 and was a past president of the Northern California Pro chapter. As a member of The 1909 Society, he graciously provided for SPJ and Sigma Delta Chi in his will.