Deborah Howell, the wife of former interim West Virginia University President C. Peter Magrath, was remembered this week as an ombudsman who called out columnists and reporters, but also those who she believed unfairly criticized the journalists’ work on the pages of The Washington Post.
Howell, 68, died Jan. 2 in an accident in New Zealand, where she was vacationing with Magrath, according to the Post. Howell was considered an innovator and a champion for female journalists. As a top editor for the St. Paul Pioneer Press in Minnesota, she saw the newspaper win two Pulitzer Prizes.
She took over the Washington bureau of Newhouse News Service in 1990, according to the Post, which noted:
“Instead of concentrating on the government and institutional Washington, she focused coverage on such topics as race, gender and sexuality, technology and religion.”
In a statement, West Virginia University President Jim Clements said, “Deborah was an important part of the WVU community during the year Peter was our interim president. While she continued her career as a respected journalist in Washington, she was supportive of Peter’s passion to serve WVU.”