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Sidney James

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Categories: Media, Sports, Writers/Editors

Sidney Lorraine James, the founding editor of Sports Illustrated, died on March 11. Cause of death was not released. He was 97.
James launched his journalism career at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He freelanced for Time Magazine, and was offered a staff writer position in 1936. Over the next decade, he would serve as the publication’s Chicago bureau chief and the chief of its western editorial operations in Los Angeles.
After World War II, James moved to New York, worked his way up the editorial ranks at Life and coordinated the first televised coverage of the Republican and Democratic national conventions in 1948 with NBC. Five years later, Time Inc.’s co-founder Henry R. Luce tapped him to develop a national publication devoted to sports.
Sports Illustrated debuted on Aug. 16, 1954. James spent six years as SI’s top editor and five as its publisher. He was also responsible for convincing William Faulkner, Robert Frost, Ernest Hemingway and John Steinbeck to contribute articles.
In the 1970s, James became the chairman of the National Public Affairs Center for Television, and helped coordinate the gavel-to-gavel coverage of Senate Watergate hearings for public television. His memoir, “Press Pass: The Journalist’s Tale,” was published in 1994.

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Joan McCord

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Categories: Education, Law, Writers/Editors

jmccord.jpgJoan McCord, the first female president of the American Society of Criminology, died on Feb. 24 of lung cancer. She was 73.
The New York native received her bachelor’s and doctorate degrees from Stanford University and did graduate work at Stanford and Harvard University. She taught sixth graders in Concord, Mass., then spent several years raising her children as a single mom.
McCord joined the faculty of Temple University as a criminal justice professor in 1987. Over the next 17 years, she developed a reputation as an internationally known scholar on the development of criminal behavior by writing, co-writing and editing 12 books and over 120 articles on delinquency, violence in the inner city and alcoholism.
McCord was best known for examining programs aimed at diverting juveniles from crime. After extensive study, she determined that summer camps, Scared Straight prison visitation programs and police-led drug education programs in schools did not always deter at-risk youths from committing crimes or becoming alcoholics.
McCord served as a senior research associate at the Center for Research in Human Development on Education and was the co-chair of the Panel on Juvenile Crime for the National Academy of Sciences. She also received numerous honors, including the American Society of Criminology’s Sutherland Award and the Prix Emile Durkheim Award from the International Society of Criminology.

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Aaron Bank

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Categories: Military, Writers/Editors

Retired Army Col. Aaron Bank, “the father of the Green Berets,” died on April 1 of natural causes. He was 101.
The New York native spent his teens working as a lifeguard and swimming instructor. As a young adult, Bank traveled through Europe and learned to speak both French and German. When war became imminent in the late 1930s, he returned to America, joined the Army and volunteered for “special assignments.”
In 1943, Bank signed up with the Office of Strategic Services, a top-secret government agency formed to gather intelligence and organize resistance forces behind enemy lines. He was assigned to recruit and train 170 anti-Nazi German POWs and defectors. Their mission was to parachute into the Austrian Alps and capture high-ranking Nazi leaders, including Adolf Hitler. Before its completion, however, “Operation Iron Cross” was scrubbed. Bank then parachuted into the jungles of Indochina to search for Japanese prisoner-of-war camps. His team located and freed 165 French internees in Laos.
The 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) was approved and formally activated in 1952 in Ft. Bragg, N.C. Bank was a key figure in championing for its creation, and became the unit’s first commander. Under his guidance, the elite unit of men became skilled in the art of hand-to-hand combat, stealth tactics, the use of explosives and amphibious warfare. Bank is also credited with writing a memorandum suggesting that Special Forces soldiers be allowed to wear berets as a mark of distinction. Although the Army initially turned down the idea, President John F. Kennedy authorized the apparel in 1962.
Upon his retirement from the service in 1958, Bank became chief of security at a private oceanfront community in California. He published his memoirs, “From Oss to Green Berets: The Birth of Special Forces,” in 1986, and co-authored the novel, “Knights Cross,” with E.M. Nathanson. To celebrate his 100th birthday, President George W. Bush commended Bank for developing unconventional warfare programs and techniques.

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Bob Copper

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Categories: Military, Musicians, Writers/Editors

bcopper.jpgBob Copper, a legendary British folk singer, died on March 29. Cause of death was not released. He was 89.
Copper was born on a sheep farm in southern England to a family of folk singers. Inspired by nature and the rhythms of country life, generations of Coppers sang to entertain the relatives and neighbors on long, winter nights.
In 1898, a woman named Kate Lee visited the town of Rottingdean and wrote down the words and music to 50 songs sung by Bob’s grandfather, James “Brasser” Copper. Bob’s father, Jim Copper, penned the words to dozens more, including “The Banks of the Sweet Primroses,” “The Honest Laborer” and “Shepherd of the Downs.”
As a teen, Bob Copper served in the Household Cavalry and performed his family’s music at pubs and parties during leave. When the British Broadcasting Corp. aired a live performance of Copper and his father singing in a pub garden, Bob’s career took off.
For 50 years, Copper was a driving force behind the British folk revival. He immortalized his family’s melodies on numerous records and in three songbooks, one of which — “A Song for Every Season” — won the 1971 Robert Pitman Literary Prize. In 2001, Copper received a lifetime achievement honor from the BBC’s Folk Awards. He was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire a few days before he died.
Listen to the Copper Family

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John Sack

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Categories: Media, Military, Writers/Editors

jsack2.jpg John Sack’s first article for Esquire Magazine ran for 33,000 words. It appeared behind an all-black cover bearing the inscription: “Oh My God – We Hit a Little Girl.” The story, which followed an infantry company from training at Fort Dix, N.J., to its first battle in Vietnam, remains the longest article the magazine has ever published.
At the time, Sack’s writing style was considered New Journalism for it adopted a narrative approach that told the story through the eyes and thoughts of its participants. The infantry company’s story was retold by Sack in “M,” a book that was nominated by the NYU Department of Journalism as one of the top journalistic works of the 20th century.
Sack was only 15 years old when he launched his journalism career as a stringer for the Mamaroneck Daily Times at the Boy Scouts of America’s Camp Siwanoy in New York. He graduated with a bachelor’s degree in English from Harvard University in 1951 and volunteered for Army service in Korea. During his enlisted years, he wrote dispatches for the Army newspaper, Pacific Stars and Stripes, and freelanced for both United Press and Harper’s.
When he returned to America, Sack started writing humor for The New Yorker. Over the next eight years, he penned more satire for the magazine than anyone except S.J. Perelman and James Thurber. In the 1960s, he worked as a writer, producer and special correspondent for CBS News, served as the CBS bureau chief in Madrid and attended graduate school at Columbia University.
Sack contributed articles to Esquire for 45 years, and covered wars in Iraq, Yugoslavia and Afghanistan. His series of interviews with Lt. William H. Calley Jr., who was convicted of massacring Vietnamese civilians in My Lai, culminated in a legal battle over shield laws and journalistic privilege. Sack was arrested and indicted on federal felony charges for refusing to testify against Calley and for refusing to surrender his notes and tapes to prosecutors. The case was eventually dropped.
Sack was the only journalist to cover every American war for the past 50 years. He also wrote 10 books, including the controversial title, “An Eye for an Eye.” The nonfiction book caused an uproar because Sack reported that at the end of World War II, thousands of Jewish Holocaust survivors ran more than 1,200 concentration camps, where they tortured and killed German civilians, including women and children.
Sack died on March 27 of complications from bone marrow cancer. He was 74.

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