Lipman, 77, was former P-D managing editor

BY ROBERT A. COHN, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF EMERITUS

David Lipman, who served as managing editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for 14 years of his 36 at the newspaper, died Thursday, July 31, 2008 from complications of myelodysplasia, a bone-marrow-related disease, at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis. He was 77 years of age and a resident of Chesterfield. Despite Mr. Lipman’s long struggle with his illness, he remained active in the journalistic community.

Among many other activities, Mr. Lipman was a long-time board member and advisory committee member of the St. Louis Jewish Light.

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The obituary story by Tim O’Neal and Elizabeth Holland on Mr. Lipman in the Aug. 1 edition of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch states, “Asked by his eighth-grade teacher in Springfield, Mo., for his career goal, he said he wanted to become editor of the Post-Dispatch. It was a goal Mr. Lipman clearly never forgot.”

Mr. Lipman joined the St. Louis Post-Dispatch in 1960 as a sports writer and covered Missouri Tiger athletics before he was promoted to assistant sports editor in 1966. In 1979, he was named managing editor, which included being in charge of overall supervision of the paper’s daily report.

O’Neal and Holland state that Mr. Lipman “was known for running the newsroom with a firm hand, sometimes with bluster. ‘I’m what people call a hands-on editor — and a lot of other names as well,’ he told an interviewer in 1986.” They also quote Richard K. Weil, a former Post-Dispatch managing editor as recalling Mr. Lipman as “an old-school, hard-driving editor.” Weil added that staffers who chafed under Mr. Lipman’s leadership “were often surprised when visiting his home or discussing a family crisis with him. They would find him to be a ‘gentle pussycat.’ In social situations, he always put family first.”

O’Neal and Holland also quote Joe Whittington, a former Post news and city editor as recalling Mr. Lipman’s “great energy” when pursuing a story,” and also noted his gentler side. “His more tender side was repeatedly shown by his offers of help when a staffer’s family faced a crisis,” Whittington said.

Those qualities were in evidence in Mr. Lipman’s wife, Marilyn, and among other family members who accompanied him to Press Club functions, meetings of the St. Louis Jewish Light Board of Trustees and other activities. Mr. Lipman last April received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 27th Annual Virginia Betts White Quest Awards, in recognition of his long and distinguished career at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and for his numerous leadership positions in local and statewide journalism organizations. The award was presented to Mr. Lipman by Alice S. Handelman, president of the Press Club of Metropolitan St. Louis.

In a statement to the St. Louis Jewish Light, Handelman said, “This is a sad time for us all. St. Louis has lost a treasure who made an immeasurable impact on St. Louis media. David Lipman was a mentor and friend. He represented the epitome of high-quality print journalism. He was a media giant who not only received the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service to Journalism from the University of Missouri, but also the majority of the other prestigious awards and sought-after accolades in journalism. Last year he was inducted into the Print Media Hall of Fame at the Mercantile Library at the University of Missouri-St. Louis.”

In her remarks at the Quest Awards luncheon, Handelman noted that Mr. Lipman had been among a small number of editors of daily newspapers who received copies of “The Pentagon Papers” and made the high-risk decision to publish them in their entirety. “David was the genius who has written or co-authored seven biographies of sports stars…His tenure as managing editor of the Post-Dispatch from 1979-1992, ranks as the second longest stint as managing editor in the 119-year history of the paper.”

Mr. Lipman ran the Post-Dispatch newsroom until 1992, when he was named to a corporate planning post for the Pulitzer Publishing Co., then-owner of the newspaper. Mr. Lipman was the head of Pulitzer/2000, an effort to plan the newspaper’s direction in the Internet age, until he retired in 1996.

Mr. Lipman was born on Feb. 13, 1931, and grew up in Springfield, Mo. He worked at his father’s delicatessen and was editor of the newspaper at the old Springfield Senior High School. He graduated in 1953 from the University of Missouri School of Journalism.

He served in the Air Force in Europe and was discharged in 1956 as a lieutenant.

He worked at the Jefferson City Post-Tribune, the Springfield Leader and Press (now the News-Leader), and Kansas City Star before joining the Post-Dispatch.

The year before he joined the newspaper, he married the former Marilyn Vittert, who co-wrote some of Mr. Lipman’s books. Mr. Lipman served as a juror in the annual judging for the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism, and served terms as chairman of the Press Club of Metropolitan St. Louis, the advisory board of the Missouri School of Journalism, the Mid-America Press Institute, the Missouri Press Association and the Missouri Publishers and Editors Association.

Among other honors, he received his alma mater’s Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service to Journalism and the first Jeremiah Award from United Hebrew Congregation.

Mr. Lipman was an active member of the St. Louis Jewish Light Board of Trustees and later its advisory committee.

Terry Bloomberg, who served as president of the St. Louis Jewish Light Board of Trustees from 2001-2003, said, “His many years of experience in the field of journalism and his closeness to the Jewish community, helped us deal with the challenges of an important period of transition. He was our ‘right hand man’ during that period, and continued to provide wise counsel to our board and staff in later years. He will be deeply missed.”

Funeral services were held Sunday at United Hebrew Congregation, where Rabbi Howard Kaplansky officiated, along with Rabbi Brigitte Rosenberg and Cantor Ronald Eichaker. Taking note of the fact that the funeral notice said that Mr. Lipman died “reluctantly,” Rabbi Kaplansky said. “This was another example of David Lipman’s great sense of humor. He had often said that when he died, it would be reluctantly.”

Warm words of tribute to Mr. Lipman were also offered by his son, Benjamin Lipman and daughter, Gay Lipman. “Our Dad was always a journalist and always an example of the good journalist,” said Benjamin Lipman on behalf of himself and his sister. “He was also a wonderful husband, brother, friend, mentor and boss. To us, his children, he was, like our Mom, a model of how to live a life of integrity.”

Private burial services were held after the funeral service.

Among the survivors are his wife, Marilyn Vittert Lipman; a daughter, Gay Lipman of Chicago; a son, Benjamin Lipman, of St. Louis, and a sister, Lorraine Raskin of Prairie Village, Kan.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Aplastic Anemia & MDS International Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 310, Churchton, Md. 20733.