Sunday, January 23, 2005

Joan Sweeney, Distinguished Reporter, Dies

Joan Sweeney, one of only three female reporters in the L.A. Times City Room when she was hired in 1971, died of Lou Gehrig's Disease on Saturday, Jan. 22 at home. She was 68. We will all miss her.

Sweeney, a successful novelist after she left The Times in 1984, was a popular member of the Old Farts, the organization of retired Times employees. Just last Wednesday, a card was circulated at the group's luncheon for members to sign, wishing her well.

Dorothy Townsend was the only female reporter in the City Room when I came downtown from the West Side suburban edition in 1967, and she was joined later by the second, Susan (Holly) Stocking.

In those days, women did not have it very easy at The Times. Most often, they were given "women's assignments" and not allowed to do very much on the main stories. Gradually, that changed, with the addition of such hard-driving and well-respected reporters as Narda Zucchino, Nancy Skelton, Myrna Oliver, Janet Clayton, Anna Gorman, Julie Cart, Tracy Wilkinson, Andrea Ford, Becky Trounson, Carla Hall, Tracy Wood, Carla Rivera, Tina Daunt, Julie Tamaki, Stephanie Chavez, Joselyn Stewart, Teresa Watanabe, Tracy Weber, Bettina Boxall, Usha McFarling, Jennifer Oldham and the remarkable Bella Stumbo among others..

Now, of course, The Times women are highly successful and well accepted. Sweeney helped pave the way for that. It wasn't always so, and at one or two times they had to assert themselves, demanding equal treatment.

Joan was a well diversified reporter, even contributing a skiing column to the Sports Section.

Recently, she sustained her most difficult and tragic disease with grace and dignity. We all admired her.

It's always shocking to read of a valued colleague's passing, Just in the past year, we've lost many fine members of the Times family, including Frank Del Olmo, Bruce Cox, Betty Hughes, , John Dreyfuss, Stan Allison, Jody Jacobs, John Lawrence, and Lee Austin, among others.

Joan Sweeney was a talented and wonderful person, friendly to everyone. May she rest in peace. The paper today says donations in her memory may be sent to the ALS Assn., 27001 Agoura Road, Suite 150, Calabasas Hills, California 91301.

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16 Comments:

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It was sad to hear of Joan's passing. Her sister was married to my cousin. After his death, we lost touch. It has been 30 years, but I still remember her fondly.

Richard@Marcher.us

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