Tuesday, March 24, 2015

John Means, "The Village Wordsmith" author, dies at 87

Got a sad note this morning from the nephew of John Means, who produced the widely read "The Village Wordsmith" newsletter for the staff of the San Antonio Express-News, that his uncle had died at 87.

The Wordsmith was also emailed around to those of us who were part of the editing fraternity. It was always a good read, with great information and examples. I still refer to some of them in my editing class. John was especially good with the dos and don'ts of military usage (which, given the concentration of bases around San Antonio, you'd need to be).

From his nephew, Sean P. Means, movie critic, reporter and columnist at The Salt Lake Tribune:


It is my sad duty to report that John, my uncle, passed away on Saturday in his home in Schertz, Texas, outside of San Antonio. He was 87. 

 John was a lifelong newspaperman, from his days as a cub reporter at age 17 at the Nashville Banner. He worked most of the 1960s at the Memphis Commercial Appeal, reporting on the Tennessee Legislature, among other things. After working as a congressional press aide for six years, he landed at the Washington Post copy desk for nearly two decades, until he retired to San Antonio in 1995. Even then, he couldn’t keep out of the newsroom, and worked part-time at the Express-News from 1995 to 2009 — when, at the age of 80, he took the buyout. 

John was an inspiration to me, to be sure, as he made working at a newspaper look both fun and important — both of which have proven to be true. Thank you for being a fan of “The Village Wordsmith.” I know he got a kick out of writing it, and knowing people were reading it.

My condolences go to John's family, and I'm saddened once again by the loss of one of the stalwarts of the editing trade.

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