Saturday, November 07, 2009

In Memoriam: H. Lee Silberman 1919-2009

Lee Silberman, a former editor of The Wall Street Journal whose career as a journalist and public relations executive spanned six decades, died suddenly Tuesday. He was 90. Silberman lived his last 10 years in Clayton, where he and he his wife, Ruth, relocated from Morristown, NJ, to be closer to their son and grandchildren.

That's the opening paragraph of Lee's obituary in the News & Observer on Friday. The rest of it follows below, and he led a very impressive career, indeed, so be sure to read it. Lee recently served for several years on the Clayton Downtown Development Association. In the photo Lee is shown recieving a plaque recognizing his service on the DDA board. One of his lasting contributions to the DDA was the editing of the Downtown Clayton: Vision 2012 statement. He took a list of sentences and brought them to life and present a vibrant description of the vision for downtown Clayton. Lee was eager to be of service in his adopted community, whether it was distributing flyers to businesses, writing the Rotary newsletter, opening their house just a few weeks ago for an art walk, or in myriad other ways, he wanted to contribute, and he did. Thank you, Lee.

Before retiring in 1995, Silberman was executive vice president for the New York public relations firm Hill & Knowlton, working with clients that included Woolworths, Prudential and Bankers Trust. He held the position into his late 70s, commuting to Manhattan by train from his home in suburban New Jersey. Silberman’s first love, however, was newspapers, a passion he pursued from the time he was editor of the Daily Cardinal student newspaper at the University of Wisconsin. After graduating, he landed his first job as a cub reporter for the Bayonne Times in Hudson County, N.J., near Newark, where he was born to first-generation Russian immigrant parents. His early career was interrupted by World War II. He served four years in the Army, rising to the rank of captain. He later moved on to the Wichita Eagle in Kansas and then, in 1955, to the Wall Street Journal, where he was banking editor and wrote a tax column. He received the prestigious Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism in 1965 for an article he wrote for the Harvard Business Review. He later became a Wall Street correspondent for the Economist magazine. Even in retirement, Silberman continued to write and report. He wrote occasional columns for the Clayton News Star and edited the Clayton Rotary Club’s newsletter, The Roundup. He remained a voracious newspaper reader and news junkie until the day he died. He read several papers a day, including The News & Observer and The New York Times. Silberman developed a strong attachment to his adopted Clayton, where he was appointed to the town’s Downtown Development Association and was a member of the Clayton Rotary and the First Baptist Church. He is survived by Ruth, his wife of 60 years; sons, Richard of South Lyon, MI, Gregory of Santa Clarita, CA, and Todd and his wife, Kristin Collins of Raleigh; and eight grandchildren. A memorial service will be held 11:00 a.m. Saturday, November 7, 2009 at the First Baptist Church of Clayton, 411 N. Fayetteville St., Clayton. In lieu of flowers, send donations to the Johnston County Council on Aging, 1363 West Market Street, Smithfield, NC 27577.

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