Carey Londner, managing editor of this newspaper from 1991 to 1994, died last Thursday of complications resulting from major surgery.
Perhaps the best word to describe Carey, who was only 54 when she died, is “feisty.” She was a redhead and relished the role. And though she was small, she could be fierce. Rabbi Neal Borovitz, who eulogized her at her funeral on Monday, caught her essence when he said – affectionately – that he had always gotten his d’var Torah column in on time because “you didn’t want to get a call from Carey Londner.”
He went on to say that somehow, after it went through her hands, the column was better.
Carey was a journalist’s journalist. She had a passion for truth, accuracy, and the just-right word rather than the almost-right word. She loved newspapers; they were her life.
We did not know, during her tenure here, that illness was her life as well – and had been for many years. She never complained about her health (her lack of it, rather). She was always crisp and pert and professional. In retrospect, that reticence was heartbreakingly brave.
In 1993, she interviewed members of a Bergenfield family who were planning to attend a reunion in Austria, from which they had fled during the Holocaust. They were so pleased with her story that they invited her to come along. She did – and judging from the substantial story she filed on her return, she must have taken notes every moment.
“Forty-five Jews â€¦ returned to this city where most of them were born,” she wrote, “a place they had been forced to leave behindâ€¦. And every one of them had a story.
“Forty-five stories of death, survival, escape, cunning, friendships, loss of faith, and restoration of faithâ€¦.
“[M]y task as a journalist was to sift through the stories and memoriesâ€¦.”
Sift through them she did, for more than three pages of this newspaper, concluding, “The evil that men – and women – did left its reminders all around me, in the surroundings of this formerly Nazi nation and in the stories of the Jews I met.
“I did not become blinded to this, but neither did I want to become blinded to the good in humanity, to those who placed their own lives on the line for those of strangers, to those who remained friends with Jews when such friendships put them at risk.
“The survivors, I believe, feel the same.”
Carey Londner never did “become blinded to the good in humanity.”
May her memory be a blessing.