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John Strohmeyer, 85, editor of former Bethlehem Globe Times

John Strohmeyer, 85, editor of the former Bethlehem Globe-Times from 1956 to 1984, died of heart failure on March 3 at home in Crystal River, Florida. The only writer for a Lehigh Valley publication to win the Pulitzer Prize, he did so in 1972 for a series of editorials advocating racial tolerance in Bethlehem.

According to this recent story about him ...

It was a November 1970 bar fight that marked his career when Bethlehem police beat Puerto Rican and African-American teenagers and arrested a youth center director after an unrelated brawl among white men erupted at the old Ale House and spilled onto Five Points.

In a series of editorials that would earn him the Pulitzer for editorial writing, Strohmeyer defended the youth center director, Bob Thompson, lambasted city police and chided the city for refusing to investigate the incident.

A legal fund for Thompson was subsequently created and, months later, charges of unlawful assembly and conspiracy to riot were dismissed. The youth center, Hang-Up House, reopened and the city took steps to improve relations between the community and the police.

In a 1991 interview with the Morning Call, Allentown, Strohmeyer called the editorial section ''the soul'' of a newspaper: ''You write editorials not to impose a position, but to try to get the community thinking about issues, about its problems.''

He could have belonged to the country club and hung around with Bethlehem Steel executives, but instead he belonged to the YMCA, according to a former employee, because he said that as a reorter one should accept no favors and owe nothing to anybody.

His 1986 book, ''Crisis in Bethlehem: Big Steel's Battle to Survive,'' was about the decline of Bethlehem Steel.

When I worked for the Diocese of Allentown, during one of my walks – with Roman collar – through the Globe-Times newsroom (something one can no longer do easily at most newspapers), Strohmeyer asked me into his non-pretentious office where we talked about how I was doing in the biz, whether I thought his paper was being fair to my interests, and about our shared Lithuanian heritage. He impressed me as a gracious man.

His first, wife, Nancy, died in 2000. They had been married for 51 years. She had been a member of the Cathedral Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem, and was chair of our diocesan communication ministry during the early 1980s.

More about John Strohmeyer: Ex-Globe-Times editor, Pulitzer-winner dies, Allentown Morning Call - Kathy Lauer-Williams; Daily newspapering was John Strohmeyer's gift to Bethlehem; Lehighvalleylive.com; Remembering John Strohmeyer, my teacher, The Express Times - LehighValleyLive.com - Marcia White; Former Bethlehem Globe-Times editor John Strohmeyer dies in Florida; The Express Times - LehighValleyLive.com - Jim Deegan

––posted by Bill Lewellis


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