Ron Goben — top editor at Bay Area news­pa­pers

San Francisco Chronicle - - OBITUARY - By Steve Rubenstein Steve Rubenstein is a San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle staff writer. Email: sruben­stein@ sfchron­i­cle.com

Ron Goben, a long­time Bay Area jour­nal­ist who was a top editor at the Palo Alto Times and Penin­sula Times Tri­bune for more than two decades, seemed to sub­scribe to ev­ery news­pa­per and magazine ever pub­lished.

He was pas­sion­ate about news­pa­pers, re­porters and the writ­ten word. He was also pas­sion­ate about dogs, cats, pol­i­tics and ba­nana cream pie.

Mr. Goben died June 20 of can­cer at a hos­pi­tal in Plac­erville (El Do­rado County). He was 88.

A na­tive of Rock Is­land, Ill., Mr. Goben was a grad­u­ate of North­west­ern Univer­sity and a U.S. Army vet­eran. He worked in Tokyo for the mil­i­tary news­pa­per Stars and Stripes and for the Honolulu Star Bul­letin be­fore mov­ing to the Bay Area in 1964.

From 1964 to 1988, Mr. Goben was a reporter, as­sis­tant city editor, city editor, news editor and edi­to­rial writer for the Palo Alto Times and the Penin­sula Times Tri­bune, which was formed when the Times merged with the Red­wood City Tri­bune in 1979. He di­rected those news­pa­pers’ lo­cal news cov­er­age, calmly men­tor­ing young re­porters and invit­ing staff mem­bers’ chil­dren to bang away at the man­ual type­writ­ers in the hope that they might some day be­come as hooked on news­pa­per­ing as he was.

“He was pa­tient and even-tem­pered, in a pro­fes­sion that of­ten wasn’t,” re­called for­mer Chron­i­cle news editor Jay Johnson, who was a cub reporter un­der Mr. Goben four decades ago. “He was a pro and a gen­tle­man. I re­mem­ber when I was just start­ing, I was told to watch Mr. Goben and to do what he does.”

A se­ries of sto­ries by Mr. Goben in the 1970s about dys­lexia was among the first to de­scribe in de­tail the lit­tle­known medical con­di­tion.

Af­ter leav­ing the Times Tri­bune, Mr. Goben served as a spokesman for Stan­ford Univer­sity Medical Cen­ter. In 1992, he moved to the Sierra foothill town of Camino (El Do­rado County), where he wrote a col­umn for the lo­cal paper and served as chair­man of the County Demo­cratic Cen­tral Com­mit­tee.

He is sur­vived by his wife of 61 years, Lor­raine; his daugh­ter, for­mer Chron­i­cle copy editor Jan Goben of San Fran­cisco; his son, Gre­gory of Rohn­ert Park; and two grand­daugh­ters.

Plans for a me­mo­rial cel­e­bra­tion later this sum­mer are in­com­plete.

Cour­tesy Goben fam­ily

Ron Goben wrote one of the first se­ries on dys­lexia in the 1970s.

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