Murray Light, an old-school newspaperman who spent 50 years at The Buffalo News, the last 20 as editor, died on his 85th birthday in his Buffalo home.
A memorial service is planned for Nov. 4 at Temple Beth Zion for the editor who colleagues said reveled at the chance to be at the center of the action while directing news coverage with a keen devotion to ethics and principles.
Born in Brooklyn, Light spent 50 years at the upstate newspaper, starting as a reporter in 1949. In reporting his death Friday from an undisclosed cause, The Buffalo News recalled how Light would strut around his newsroom "like a general _ barking orders, backslapping colleagues, shaping the newspaper's daily content and editorials, while occasionally sneaking a smoke in the men's room."
Under his watch, the newspaper outlived the rival Courier-Express, introduced a Sunday edition and launched a morning edition and a weekly entertainment section.
Light retired in 1999.
"Murray set a strong example as a no-nonsense, hard-driving editor whose trademark bluster concealed a fair-minded, ethical journalist and a patriotic citizen committed to a free press and free speech," said Buffalo News Editor Margaret Sullivan, who succeeded Light.
After Light's retirement, the newspaper's owner, Warren Buffett, commissioned Light to write a history of The Buffalo News. "From Butler to Buffett: The Story Behind The Buffalo News" was published in 2004. The newspaper was founded by the Butler family.
Through his career, Light held office and membership in several professional organizations, including president of the New York State Society of Newspaper Editors. He was a member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and the Associated Press Managing Editors Association and was chosen for a nominating jury of journalism's coveted Pulitzer Prize in 1990 and 1991.
Light is survived by his wife of 57 years and two children, including his son, Jeff Light, the editor of the San Diego Union-Tribune.