Sunday, June 03, 2018

A change in leadership

I'm thrilled to announce that The Society of Professional Obituary Writers has a new leader. Adam Bernstein, obituary editor for The Washington Post, was nominated for the position and has kindly accepted the responsibility.

Bernstein has spent his career putting the "post" in The Washington Post, first as an obituary writer and then as editor. The American Society of Newspaper Editors recognized Bernstein’s ability to exhume “the small details and anecdotes that get at the essence of the person” and to write stories that are “complex yet stylish.” He is featured in Marilyn Johnson’s book about the obit-writing craft, “The Dead Beat.”

Among the obituaries Bernstein has written, his favorites are those of Edward von Kloberg III, the lobbyist for dictators and despots who embraced the slogan “shame is for sissies”; and the filmmaker Billy Wilder, who wooed his future wife with the line, “I’d worship the ground you walked on, if only you lived in a better neighborhood.”

Perhaps wisely, Bernstein never tried to top Wilder when wooing his own future wife, Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist Marina Walker Guevara. They have two children, Santiago and Mia.

As the fourth president of SPOW, Adam has seen wonderful examples of leadership. Alana Baranick, Andrew Meacham and Maureen O'Donnell all put their own stamp on the society and helped it to flourish. I have no doubt that Bernstein will lead us well.

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