Bob Stein, far left, at an event with President John F. Kennedy. He was then editor of Redbook.

Bob Stein, far left, at an event with President John F. Kennedy. He was then editor of Redbook.

Robert Stein, the veteran Greatest Generation journalist, magazine editor, book editor and, later in life, superb blogger, has passed away. He was a co-blogger here at TMV, admired by its writers and readers. I also had the pleasure of visiting him for a few hours at his Connecticut home about 7 years ago.

His son Keith put this post on Bob Stein’s blog Connecting the Dots:

SATURDAY, JULY 12, 2014
Robert Stein: March 1924 – July 2014

My father Robert Stein passed away Wednesday morning July 9th at my Connecticut home under hospice care from kidney issues related to his several month battle with multiple myeloma cancer. All and all, it was blessing as he had spent the last month in the hospital and was adamant about wanting to die at home in his sleep which he did. Needless to say it’s been a grueling few months for our family but we are relieved that he did not suffer at the end.

As per his wishes we have no plans for services. I will post links to his obituaries as they are published. While we are fortunate that his eight years of blogging has served as a chronicle of his life, he also wrote several hundred pages of memoirs which I hope to post in the near future on this site along with some more photos for anyone interested.

My family would like to thank every one of his blog followers. He enjoyed writing immensely and greatly appreciated that he had faithful readers to inspire him in his 90s.

If anyone has comments, questions or condolences, please feel free to post a comment or send a private message to robertstein@optonline.net.

Sincerely,
Keith Stein

On his blog, this is how Bob Stein described himself:
About Me

ROBERT STEIN editor, publisher, media critic and journalism teacher, is a former Chairman of the American Society of Magazine Editors, and author of “Media Power: Who Is Shaping Your Picture of the World?” Before the war in Iraq, he wrote in The New York Times: “I see a generation gap in the debate over going to war in Iraq. Those of us who fought in World War II know there was no instant or easy glory in being part of ‘The Greatest Generation,’ just as we knew in the 1990s that stock-market booms don’t last forever. We don’t have all the answers, but we want to spare our children and grandchildren from being slaughtered by politicians with a video-game mentality.” This is not meant to extol geezer wisdom but suggest that, even in our age of 24/7 hot flashes, something can be said for perspective. The Web is a wide space for spreading news, but it can also be a deep well of collective memory to help us understand today’s world. In olden days, tribes kept village elders around to remind them with which foot to begin the ritual dance. Start the music.

The family has posted a slide show (one picture from above) which shows photos of Stein throughout his life as one of the country’s top journalists.

Here’s what he posted at age 90, in March:

The View from 90
On March 4, 1933, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was inaugurated. It was my ninth birthday.

In April 1945, I was a 21-year-old foot soldier on the floor of a German farmhouse when someone shook me awake to whisper that FDR had died.

Now, at 90, I am inevitably shaped by those years after a working lifetime as writer, editor and publisher trying to explain the world to others—-and myself.

The scenes around me today are filled with human folly, selfishness and shameless behavior, but that’s far from the whole story. My so-called Greatest Generation, which survived a Depression and World War, does not in retrospect seem so morally superior to those that succeeded it but only more limited in education, experience of the world and outlook.

Many of our virtues were rooted in ignorance: no TV, cable, computers, Internet, no electronics of any kind, only radios with music, soap operas and swatches of evening news lifted from newspapers (as a teenage copy boy, I wrote some of them.)

As a nation we were united, but in an innocence that also had its dark side—-racial ghettos, religious prejudice, rural isolation—-where only unseen white men, all Protestant, held power over our lives in government and business.

Women then lived no fuller a life than those in Nazi Germany: Kinder, Küche, Kirche (children, kitchen, church). Our mothers patrolled homes in house dresses, with only one exception.

Although we knew her as Mrs. Goldstein, nothing went with that matronly name, not the shimmer of clothes clinging to her trim body, or the beauty-parlor hair, the high-heeled shoes and face painted with makeup even in daytime, or the sweet perfume cloud that came into the living room in late afternoons when she kissed her son goodnight and dazzled the rest of us playing there with a cupid’s bow smile on her way out.

She always seemed on the move to someplace exciting or, if my mother’s mutterings could be believed, sinful. I had no idea what nafka meant, but Mrs. Goldstein gave our pre-teen senses a whiff of hope that the night life on movie screens existed somewhere in the real world.

Jump cut through decades: a World War; prosperous but Man-in-the-Grey-Flannel-Suit Fifties; JFK, the Youthquake, Civil Rights awakening and Women’s Lib of the televised Sixties; a backlash of the Silent Majority and Watergate in the Nixon years; Reagan’s Morning-in-America to paper over growing economic and political gulfs followed by Clinton’s centrism and self-centeredness barely surviving Gingrich’s loopy Contract with America; and then almost a decade of W’s preemptive war and mindless tax cuts to bring us into the Obama years of almost total Tea Party collapse of the civility that held us together all that time, with Racism showing its naked face.

Yet, in perspective, what looks so grim now may only be the low point of another upward spiral to come. A year ago, the New York Times posted a symposium, “Are People Getting Dumber?” Harvard’s brilliant Steven Pinker anchored it with an essay, “To See Humans’ Progress, Zoom Out”:

“Can we see the fruits of superior reasoning in the world around us? The answer is yes.

“In recent decades the sciences have made vertiginous leaps in understanding, while technology has given us secular miracles like smartphones, genome scans and stunning photographs of outer planets and distant galaxies. No historian with a long view could miss the fact that we are living in a period of extraordinary intellectual accomplishment…

“Ideals that today’s educated people take for granted–equal rights, free speech, and the primacy of human life over tradition, tribal loyalty and intuitions about purity–are radical breaks with the sensibilities of the past. These too are gifts of a widening application of reason.”

Others point out a worldwide rise in IQ scores, innovations complicating our lives with “upgrade upon upgrade” that don’t “lower our native intelligence but “relentlessly burden it” and, perhaps most important of all, a blogger about stupidity notes:

“You can get a perfect score on your SATs and it will barely register in a world of 200 million tweets a day. But give just one stupid answer in a beauty pageant, and you’ll be the laughingstock of the world before you have time to clear your name on the next morning’s ‘Today’ show.

”And while watching something smart takes time, you can see something stupid in a flash. Today at work, when I had a spare moment, I didn’t try to learn a new language. I watched a video of a guy getting a tattoo removed with an air-blast sander. And now I know that’s not a very good idea.”

As I blew out a blast furnace of birthday candles on this weekend of ominous headlines, I was silently repeating Dr. Pangloss’ mantra, that with a little courage—-and some luck–we may all soon be living again in “the best of all possible worlds.”

Most people only “knew” Bob by reading what he wrote or by reading throughout their lives books or articles he edited. I had the pleasure of meeting him in person.

I’ll do a post on that later today or tomorrow.

And, yes, to the right of this computer is my bookcase. And there in it, proudly resting and well-read, is the copy of “Media Power” that he gifted me years ago.

robert stein sunglasses

JOE GANDELMAN, Editor-In-Chief
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Copyright 2014 The Moderate Voice
  • DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

    Rest well Bob. May your sons and your family be comforted. I know Bob was near 90 years old. His last post here was on Mar 31, 2014 at TMV. JOe and I were concerned because the pacing had been interrupted. We wrote and we called, but to no avail. Finally as I talked over my concern about Bob with my wise grown daughter, she suggested a ‘welfare check’ which is done by a phone call to the local police officer station. This I did, and in the tiny town where Bob lived, nearly 1500 miles away from where I live, the police officers couldnt have been nicer and more alert. They came back to me within an hour saying that yes, they had sent an officer to Bob’s house and determined that Bob was alive and had gone to live with one of his sons ‘a couple villages over’ is how they put it… and the inferrence was that Bob was availing himself to the helps of his family. So Joe and I rested easier, knowing Bob was in good hands and being watched over.

    Bob, former head honcho of the Conde Naste magazine empire was, as most all of us wish to be to the end, clear minded no matter how many years he gathered. He was sharp and yet, as we all know, especially those of us in elder years, you just hope either the body will last as long as the mind, and/or the mind will last as long as the body. I would say Bob had both right up to the last. So typical of Bob, to pull and pull like an ox, and then just suddenly, one day, lie down… and go on his way. His way. That would sum up Bob in many a way.

  • sheknows

    So VERY sorry to hear that. Enjoyed many of his writings. His contributions to all of us from his generation have been enlightening and invaluable. He will be missed.
    May he rest in peace and peace to all his family and friends.

  • I’m sorry to hear of his passing but he had a long and productive and will be immortalized by his writing. Who could ask for more?

  • Bob will be dearly missed. We corresponded often over the years. My love says that Redbook was never better when he was in charge.

  • jdledell

    People like Bob live on, both in their writings as well as their personal interactions. I always enjoyed reading his writings here at TMV . Every time a blog of his appeared, I always thought I sure would like to be as mentally astute as he was in his advanced age. Rest in peace and may your family be blessed.

  • SteveK

    After a long and very productive life Bob was blessed with being able to pass at home and with family.

    A perfect end to an exceptional, well lived life.

    Rest in peace Mr. Stein

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    Rest in Peace, Robert Stein.

    My sincere condolences to the family.

  • The_Ohioan

    Thank you for the pictures. A wise man who truly saw “the best of times and the worst of times” and was self-aware enough to enjoy and reflect on them. How wonderful that you were able to enjoy so many years with him. Peace to you and yours.

  • JIM SATTERFIELD

    May he rest in peace and may his family be comforted by the knowledge that they did well by him. I enjoyed his writings here for all the years I’ve been reading TMV.

  • ShannonLeee

    Rest in Peace. You will be missed by many.

    I read everything he posted and enjoyed his responses.

  • ordinarysparrow

    May the family and loved ones know peace and comfort in these days of remembrance and honor… Mr. Stein R.I.P, a good life, he will be missed…

  • roro80

    All my condolences to those who knew him. Rest in peace, Robert!

  • Rest in peace, Robert.

  • DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

    I so love that our community here at TMV comes together to remember Bob. Thank you. It means alot to me and to Joe and to Shaun and to all of us who knew Bob–

    with Jerry Remmers [just the most ace old sportswriter ] and Jack Grant, a sensitive writer also, we’ve lost three dedicated TMV writers ikn the last couple years. Three too many… it is not too much to say, we loved them as brothers, talking on phone and sometimes meeting in person… and seeing you come to bless the life of Bob who was part hero, part savvy businessman, certainly writer… and part humorist…

    that you know him too, and appreciated him and his works, is just, well, thank you. That you took your time to come in a sense sit shiva. Thank you.

  • jdledell

    dr. e – Thanks to you, Joe and others, TMV is like a family. Through our stories and comments we come to know one another and I am sure that any of us would leap to help someone in the TMV family who needs it. While the TMV family may not be large, it is special in this way and no other Blog can match it.

  • JSpencer

    Robert Stein has long been one of my favorite writers on TMV. I especially appreciated that his perspective was based on so many years of experience seeing the world with intelligence and humanity. It would be understatement to say he will be missed. RIP Robert, and many thanks for so many years of fine writing.