Beverly Kees remembered as editor, educator

Friday, December 17, 2004

Former colleagues of Beverly Kees, a journalist and author who died Dec. 10, remembered her this week as a dedicated editor and educator.

Kees, who once was editor of the Gary, Ind., Post-Tribune, was struck and killed by a truck in San Francisco. She was 63.

Kees spent most of her newspaper career at the Minneapolis Star and Minneapolis Tribune, starting as a reporter and ending as an assistant managing editor. She also served as executive editor of the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald and executive editor of The Fresno Bee.

Kees was editor of the Post-Tribune from 1984 to 1988.

Along with Bill Phillips, she wrote “Nothing Sacred: Journalism, Politics and Public Trust in a Tell-All Age” while a visiting professional scholar at the Freedom Forum’s First Amendment Center in Nashville, Tenn., in 1993 to 1994.

“During her fellowship at the First Amendment Center, Bev was all seriousness in researching and writing 'Nothing Sacred' with Bill Phillips, but nothing but fun and light in her dealings with all others — friends or strangers,” said Paul McMasters, First Amendment Center ombudsman. “No one knew from one day to the next whether her office would be decorated with balloons, scented candles, her latest cooking success or other efforts to spread cheer all about her.

“To work with Bev was to feel much better about work and life,” McMasters said.

Kees later directed journalism education and professional journalism training programs and seminars for the Freedom Forum at its Pacific Coast Center, now closed, in San Francisco.

“Bev Kees was a proven journalist with a passion to do more for the society in which she lived,” said Jerry Sass, retired executive vice president of the Freedom Forum. “That passion caused her to teach and mentor countless journalism students to strive for the same high quality, dedication and integrity that marked her own professional career.”

Félix Gutiérrez, former Freedom Forum senior vice president and executive director of the Pacific Coast Center, said, “Bev broke more than a few newsroom glass ceilings in her career, showing that the best man for the job is often a woman, and helping open more doors for members of all groups that had once been left outside.

“Always polite and personable, she showed that an editor can handle hard news without becoming hardened to fellow workers or the public,” said Gutiérrez, now professor of journalism at the Annenberg School for Communication, University of Southern California.

Kees was walking a friend's dog about 11 a.m. when she was hit by the 18-wheel truck as it was making a right turn, said police spokesman Dewayne Tully. She died at the scene. The dog was slightly injured.

Police said the driver felt a bump after Kees was hit and apparently wasn't aware that she was in the crosswalk. The driver was not charged, and the investigation was continuing, police said.

“Both were within their rights,” Tully said. “There was no evidence of any DUI and no violation of traffic laws.”

Kees was former president of the northern California chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, which has set up an online memorial to her.

She was also a member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, spending three years as an ASNE writing awards judge, and served as the Associated Press Managing Editors Association committee chairwoman, board member and secretary.

Some of the stories Kees wrote about Freedom Forum journalism-program events appear below.

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