Former L.A. Times editor Henry Fuhrmann dies

Henry Fuhrmann. photo courtesy of Los Angeles Times

Henry Fuhrmann, a former assistant managing editor for the Los Angeles Times, passed away on Sept. 14, at the age of 65. The journalist and self-described “word nerd” saw the hyphen, especially in regards to race and ethnicity, as “an unnecessary and derogative diminution of American identities and understood that no battle was too small in the fight for clarity, precision and fairness,” according to the publication’s obituary.

He helped persuade the “Associated Press Stylebook” to retract the hyphen when referring “to an American person’s heritage,” the publication stated. He passed away after a “brief and sudden illness,” the L.A. Times reported, citing his family.

Fuhrmann also opposed using the word “internment” to refer to persons of Japanese descent who the U.S. incarcerated during World War II, the L.A. Times reported.

As an assistant managing editor at the publication, Fuhrmann was charged with “oversee(ing) the copy desk, which plays in the organization of newsrooms a critical and purposely isolated role away from reporters and their editors,” the outlet reported.

Fuhrmann, an American who was born to a German Danish Navy corpsman and a Japanese mother, was born on a U.S. hospital ship in Japan, the L.A. Times reported.

Fuhrmann graduated with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from California State University, Los Angeles and Columbia University, respectively. After a stint with the Times’ Minority Editorial Training Program, which was later renamed the Times’ Fellowship, he was hired as a copy editor for their calendar section, the publication reported. In the 2000s, he was the deputy editor of the Business section.

After beginning “semi-retirement” at the end of 2015, Fuhrmann continued his commitment to journalism as he served on the executive board for ACES: The Society for Editing, an organization of professional editors and the Asian American Journalists Association, the publication reported.

“Henry was deeply dedicated to AAJA’s mission and the AAJA family, and he believed strongly in the power of mentorship and giving back to the next generation of journalists,” AAJA said in a statement.

“AAJA is devastated over the loss of our dear friend Henry, an AAJA legend and guiding light, and a thoughtful journalist dedicated to fair and precise coverage of Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and to treating our communities with dignity through our words,” AAJA Board President Michelle Ye Hee Lee said in the statement.

Fuhrmann is survived by his wife, Lindi Dreibelbis; daughters Elena Fuhrmann and Angela Fuhrmann Knowles; and three siblings, Irene, David and Glen, the L.A. Times reported.

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