For­mer Courant ed­i­tor Richard Mooney dies at 91

Hartford Courant - - Connecticut - Ca­reer in Hart­ford co­in­cided with end of lo­cal own­er­ship By Re­becca Lurye

HART­FORD – Richard E. Mooney, a for­mer New York Times colum­nist who served as ex­ec­u­tive ed­i­tor of The Hart­ford Courant for five years, died Wed­nes­day night at the age of 91.

Mooney shep­herded The Courant dur­ing the land­mark years of 1976 to 1981, co­in­cid­ing with the shut­ter­ing of The Hart­ford Times and The Courant’s $105.6 mil­lion sale to the Times Mirror com­pany, end­ing its in­de­pen­dence as a lo­cally-owned pa­per.

He spent more than 40 years as a jour­nal­ist, his time at The Courant book-ended by long ca­reers at The New York Times as a re­porter, for­eign correspondent,

as­sis­tant ed­i­tor and ed­i­to­rial board mem­ber.

“His pas­sion was the New York Times, and The Hart­ford Courant when he was ed­i­tor there,” his son, Steve Mooney, said. “His pas­sion was the news and his pas­sion was get­ting it right. He took lan­guage se­ri­ously, he took facts se­ri­ously, he took jour­nal­is­tic stan­dards se­ri­ously.”

Un­til he suf­fered com­pli­ca­tions from a long bat­tle with cancer, hewasliv­ing in­de­pen­dently in New York City. Even re­cently, Mooney was tak­ing reg­u­lar trains to visit his alma mater, Yale Univer­sity, where he com­piled sev­eral ex­hibits on the Yale Daily News, Rev­o­lu­tion­ary War fig­ure Nathan Hale and the nam­ing of Yale's 12 orig­i­nal col­leges.

Mooney was born in Plain­field, N.J., to Wan­dell M. Mooney, a banker, and Alice Joy Mooney. He briefly served in the U.S. Navy at age 18, but as World War II came to a close, he went on to Yale, where he be­came manag­ing ed­i­tor of the Yale Daily News.

He grad­u­ated in 1947, and spent a year as a Nie­man Fel­low at Har­vard Univer­sity, go­ing on to work for the United Press and, in 1956, The New York Times.

Over 19 years, he worked as an eco­nom­ics re­porter in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and New York and a for­eign correspondent in Paris, with his wife, El­iz­a­beth Cole­man Mooney, and sons Jim, Steve and John in tow. He re­turned to the city as deputy for­eign ed­i­tor and deputy fi­nan­cial ed­i­tor, un­til a serendip­i­tous phone call from a cousin — and head hunter — led him to Hart­ford.

The cousin had been com­mis­sioned to find the next ed­i­tor for The Courant and wanted to knowif Mooney­had any sug­ges­tions, ac­cord­ing to for­mer Courant ed­i­tor and his­to­rian Joseph Nunes. Mooney­gave­hi­mafew­names, and then threw in his one. He got the top job.

“It was a per­sonal ac­com­plish­ment for him to be lead­ing a pa­per, and es­pe­cially one with that kind of his­tory to it,” said his son, John Mooney, founder of an on­line pol­icy pub­li­ca­tion NJ Spot­light. “I think he wore that re­ally proudly and se­ri­ously. There was no chance it would fal­ter un­der his watch.”

His old­est son, Jim Mooney, re­mem­bers his par­ents search­ing for a home in the West End, near the town line, and his fa­ther in­sist­ing they have a Hart­ford ad­dress.

“He said, ‘I have to live in Hart­ford, we can't live on that side of the street be­cause it's West Hart­ford,” Jim said.


Richard E. Mooney was the for­mer ex­ec­u­tive ed­i­tor of The Hart­ford Courant. He died Jan. 9 in Man­hat­tan, at 91.

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