Lipman, Berkman honored at Luncheon

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

David Lipman, former managing editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and Joan Lee Berkman, book co-author and manager of a public relations and marketing consulting firm, and both members of the local Jewish community, were among the honorees at the 27th Annual Virginia Betts White Quest Awards, for distinguished achievement in communications, sponsored by the Missouri Professional Comunicators, an affiliate of the National Federation of Press Women. Over 200 journalists, communications professionals, family members and friends attended the awards luncheon at Ces & Judy’s in Le Chateau Village.

The Missouri Professional Communicators, formerly Missouri Press Women, annually recognizes individual communicators with the Virginia Betts White Quest Award, named in honor of one of its members, a local leader in the communications profession for more than 40 years. The Quest Award is presented to those whose “work reflects an enduring quest for the highest standards of professional ethics and excellence.” The award was initiated in 1981.

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Members, guests and honorees were welcomed to the awards luncheon by Janice Denham and Fran Mannino, co-presidents of Missouri Professional Communicators. Barbara Pierce, one of the honorees and a resident of Kirkwood, announced the establishment of a scholarship gift in memory of Connie Karr, a former colleague and a member of the Kirkwood City Council who was killed in the tragic shooting rampage at Kirkwood City Hall earlier this year.

Radio and TV personality Wendy Wiese, a former honoree, served as master of ceremonies of the event, and longtime member Verna Smith offered a musical welcome to the honorees.

Alice S. Handelman, president of the Press Club of Metropolitan St. Louis offered remarks of introduction for David Lipman, who received the organization’s Lifetime Achievement Award for his long and distinguished career as managing editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch and his numerous leadership positions in local and statewide journalism organizations. Longtime St. Louis Post-Dispatch columnist Jerry Berger also offered some humorous anecdotes and reflections on Lipman’s career at the Post-Dispatch, describing Lipman as being a “tough, but fair” managing editor in the finest traditions of American daily newspaper journalism.

“How do you introduce a man who represents the epitome of high-quality print journalism?” said Handelman, a former Quest Award winner and former longtime community relations director of the Jewish Center for Aged (now Cedars). “Where do you begin to talk about a man who has been president of virtually every press affiliation in the state of Missouri, a giant, who not only received the Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service to Journalism from the University of Missouri, but also the majority of other prestigious awards and sought-after accolades in journalism.”

Handelman added that Lipman is “a genius who has written or co-authored seven biographies of sports stars, including collaboration with LeRoy (Satchel) Paige, Ken Boyer, Joe Namath and Bob Gibson … A giant among giants … that is David Lipman, who while serving as assistant managing editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch was among a handful of newspaper professionals who received copies of the Pentagon Papers, and had the task of deciding if they should be printed … and when.”

Handleman continued, 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.”

In his acceptance remarks, Lipman offered his congratulations to his fellow Quest Award honorees, and said that he was pleased that his wife Marilyn and son Ben were able to join him at the event; his daughter, Gay, lives in Chicago, “and is not here today because she is coming in next week for Passover.”

Lipman recalled that when he was in the eighth grade in Springfield, Mo., his teacher asked the class to write a few sentences on what each student would like to be when they grew up. “That was an easy assignment for me; I had already been bitten by the journalism bug. I put down that I would like to become the managing editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and my dream indeed came true.”

Lipman said that he had been at the paper for 14 years, starting in the sports department.

“But I did not get there alone. The late Bob Broeg, the longtime sports editor at the Post-Dispatch was my mentor, guide and friend through the years. I have also been blessed to work with columnists like Bill McClellan and Jerry Berger, and so many others among my colleagues at the newspaper. I will treasure this award and I thank the Missouri Professional Comunicators for this great honor.”

John Beck, longtime associate of Joan Lee Berkman, introduced her as one of the Quest Award honorees. “It is an honor for me to be here to honor someone I care so much about,” Beck said.

Beck pointed out that Berkman is a former executive director of external affairs for Southwestern Bell (AT &T); she managed the company’s government and public affairs for eastern Misssouri. Previously, she held numerous positions in the company’s public relations department. After her 30-year career in telecommunications, she and her mother, drama coach Eleanor Berkman, co-authored Face Watchers: Wrinkles Are Physical, Face Lines Are Mental, a featured book at the St. Louis Jewish Book Festival two years ago.

“Joan now manages a public relations and marketing consulting firm,” Beck said. “She has served as a board member for many non-profits, including Press Club of Metropolitan St. Louis, Metropolitan St. Louis Opera Theatre, Laumeier Sculpture Park, COCA, St. Louis County Workforce Development, University of Missouri-St. Louis Friends, the March of Dimes, the Clayton Chamber of Commerce and the Junior League of St. Louis, among others. She received the Outstanding Leadership Award from the March of Dimes in 2006, in connection with her Radio Broadcast for Babies, which raised almost $l million.”

Berkman thanked Beck for his remarks and for his help with the Radio Broadcast for Babies event, “a cause which means much to me personally since I almost lost a nephew.” She paid tribute to her late father, an attorney and excellent piano player, and to her mother, Eleanor, with whom she co-authored the book Face Watchers. Mom also created a trouping theater which entertained children in need. Both of my parents are my true inspiration.”

Also honored at the Quest Awards luncheon were Chrstine Buck of Channel 11, Roberta Duyff, a nationally recognized nutrition writer, Ruth Ezell, a producer for Living St. Louis on KETC/Channel 9; Barbara Pierce, a public relations professional specializing in media relations and Mike Shipley, news director of KSDK, NewsChannel 5, who was introduced by his colleague at the station, Ava Ehrlich.