Sunday, July 18, 2021

In Memoriam: Richard Brockway Stolley

Richard (Dick, as he was known) Stolley died on June 16. I considered him a close friend though I never even dined with him. I am honored to say he was a loyal fan of these Missives.

Richard Stolley at Time/Life Magazine, 1972
Photo: Neal Boenzi/The New York Times

I met Dick on the board of the Lensic Performing Arts Center in Santa Fe. He was a most self-effacing person and I only learned from others that he was the founding editor of ‘People Magazine’ which became one of the most successful publications in the country. According to The New York Times, it “changed the course of American publishing with its personality driven approach to Journalism I don’t think it is too much of a stretch to point out Facebook, Linked In, & Twitter are its internet age spinoffs.

Dick Stolley was with Time, Inc. for six decades . As a major writer for Life Magazine, he covered the Civil Rights movements of over a half a century ago. His greatest coup was acquiring for his magazine the Zapruder film of the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK). I remember the scramble of journalists to get ahold of those frames. How was I to know that over 50 years later I would be meeting that hero of the time.

Dick Stolley looking back

In an interview in the 1970’s he said “pretty sells better than ugly, young sells better than old, movies sells better than TV, TV sells better than sports and anything sells better than politics.” Unfortunately, I fear the last is no longer true.

In 2019 I wrote a Missive about an interview I had with Dick, with other anecdotes.

I have been writing these Missives for about 12 years now and, of course, I love it when people write to say they enjoyed this or that Missive but when someone of Dick’s stature with his background tells me he likes my writing, for me, it validates my efforts.

Unfortunately, in his last few years he moved to a retirement home in the Midwest, so our conversations were left to email. He replied to most of my Missives on Monday morning with just simple statements. I wrote in one Missive that my wife, an art historian, did not agree with me on a matter. His reply was, “Art in America is more powerful because experts like you and your wife do NOT agree!!!”

I told Dick once that my wife edited my blog and then I sometimes reedited it. His reply “more to the editorial point, to the rewrite belongs the victor!”

I do hope many of my readers can identify with his greatest compliment to me, “This gave me something to do and enjoy for 20 minutes, thus relieving my boredom for a change, and I am jammed with gratitude! Merci bien, Dick.”

No comments:

Post a Comment