PHOENIX (AP) — Anne Walsh, who broke through gender barriers as a reporter covering the home front during World War II and later became a fixture in journalism in Phoenix, has died at the age of 93.
Walsh was a pioneering reporter and part of a family of journalists. Her husband, Mason, served as managing editor, general manager and publisher of the Phoenix Gazette and Arizona Republic, and two of her children, Kevin and Peggy, worked as bureau chiefs for The Associated Press.
Walsh was hired as a reporter at the Dallas Times Herald in 1940s at a time when very few women were working in journalism. She was initially given mundane tasks like weather reports, church notes and obituaries, but took on more coveted assignments as the U.S. was plunged into war, covering government agencies, housing issues and labor relations.
"They decided to take a chance on satisfying my hunger to report the news on the street," she said in a newspaper profile in 1946.
Her byline soon became a regular presence on the front pages of the Dallas paper as she landed interviews with oil tycoon H.L. Hunt, labor organizer Walter Reuther and actor Victor Mature. Mademoiselle magazine profiled her and other women in journalism in 1946, noting the strides they had made but the looming challenges as men returned from the war and reclaimed jobs.
"Women will be able to retain that portion of their gain which they want to retain," she said in the interview. "There may have to be some backtracking, some moving out for returned servicemen. It appears, though, that businesses have expanded enough that any woman who wants to stay in her job, and who has proved herself capable, will have a place."
Walsh moved to Phoenix in 1961 when her husband became managing editor of the Gazette, an afternoon paper that closed in 1997. She wrote a book review column from 1962 to 1976 at the paper and remained active in Arizona journalism as her husband ran the Republic and Gazette. She remained a news junkie up until her death last week, regularly watching CNN and reading two newspapers a day from her home in the Arcadia neighborhood of Phoenix.
Two of her children became journalists. Kevin Walsh was an AP bureau chief for Florida, Arizona and the Pacific Northwest along with serving as West regional director before retiring earlier this year. Peggy Walsh was a bureau chief for the AP in San Francisco and served as executive editor of the New York Times News Service. Mason Walsh's brother, Terence, was managing editor of the Dallas Morning News.
"Mom and I spent many hours talking about her life as a reporter," Peggy Walsh said. "She always told me she was very proud that in a time when few women were assigned to hard news she was on the street, being sent to New York and covering serious issues that affected life during World War II, which she always called 'my war.'"
She is also survived by a son Tim and two grandchildren.