Max Jennings, Former ‘Dayton Daily News’ Editor, Dies On Ski Slope

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By: E&P Staff

Max Jennings, the editor of the Dayton (Ohio) Daily News when it won its Pulitzer Prize for national reporting and an ardent advocate of “civic journalism,” died Wednesday of an apparent heart attack while skiing in Taos, N.M. He was 63.

In an account by reporter Benjamin Kline, the Daily News reported Jennings suffered the apparent heart attack at the Taos Ski Valley resort while skiing with his son John. A physicians assistant, John Jennings came immediately to his father’s aid, but was unable to revive him.

Max Jennings had lived in Taos since October.

As editor of the Daily News from 1987 to 1997, Jennings was active in industry and free press causes, especially freedom of information issues. In his op-ed column, he frequently took on local and state political figures. Former Publisher Brad Tillson said he hired Jennings to get the paper “back to journalism” after a period in which it had been preoccupied with the process of merging the old Dayton Evening News into morning Daily News.

Under his editorship, the paper published an expose of mismanagement in the U.S. military’s health-care system. In 1998, just after Jennings retired, the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting was awarded to the reporters on that project, Russell Carollo and Jeff Nesmith.

Jennings was a principal founder and long-time advocate of Kids Voting, a voter-education program that encourages children to go the polls and vote along with their parents. The Daily News reported 5,000 teachers in 300 Ohio schools participate in the program, and nationwide it reaches 4.3 million students.

Jennings was born in Levelland, Texas, and joined United Press International in Cheyenne, Wyo., after graduating from Texas Tech University. He was a UPI bureau chief in Peru and Bolivia, and later taught at Arizona State University. He was editor of the Mesa (Ariz.) Tribune, then also Cox newspaper, before becoming editor in Dayton in 1987.

He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Carol Trickett Jennings, and two sons, John and Jason, from a previous marriage.

No funeral was planned, but a party in his honor will be held next month in Arizona, the Daily News reported. It said memorial contributions may be made to Kids Voting USA, 3933 McClintock Drive., No. 505, Tempe, Ariz. 85282.

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