It is with great sadness that we must announce the death of board member and ACES Education Fund President Henry Fuhrmann.
Henry’s family announced that he died Wednesday after a brief and sudden illness. He was 65.
Henry was on the board of directors of ACES: The Society for Editing, a position he assumed upon his election as the Education Fund president in 2016; he had served on the Education Fund board of directors for many years before that and was an ACES member for most if not all of ACES’ existence. Henry was a perfect choice to lead the scholarship and continuing-education arm of ACES, as he was already beloved as a mentor to so many editors over his long career at the Los Angeles Times and then, after his retirement in 2016, as an adjunct instructor at the University of Southern California — not to mention as a trainer for countless sessions at ACES conferences and workshops, and as a leader in the Asian American Journalists Association.
He was ever devoted to fostering editing among students, continuing the Education Fund’s mission of providing at least five scholarships per year and then leading the expansion of that mission. He was instrumental in the creation of the Bill Walsh Scholarship, working with the family of the beloved editor and author to provide an annual award to a student of editing in news. The Walsh Scholarship program began in 2017. Then Henry spearheaded an effort, working with the Dow Jones News Fund, to both honor another long-heralded editor and trainer of editors, Richard S. Holden, and fulfill a longtime Education Fund goal of funding continuing education for a mid-career editor: the Richard S. Holden Diversity Fellowship. Serving as a mentor to the fellows, Henry played a significant role in leading the annually awarded fellowship. His guidance and leadership were essential in selecting the third set of Holden Fellows which will be announced in the coming weeks.
Henry was a founding member of the ACES’ diversity and inclusion committee, acting as a guiding hand influencing programming at our national conferences and other efforts. He had gained national acclaim for persuading the Associated Press Stylebook, and later other style leaders like those at The New York Times, to strike the hyphens in references to a person’s dual heritage, such as African American and Asian American. “Their use in racial and ethnic identifiers can connote an otherness, a sense that people of color are somehow not full citizens or fully American,” he wrote for the Conscious Style Guide in 2018.
Henry was an editor who understood us all, and whom we understood. And he was not only a word nerd. When, for a “Meet Your Board of Directors” ACES article, he was asked to choose his favorite ACES memory, he wrote: “I would single out having the chance to invite one of my heroes, mathematician and author John Allen Paulos, to co-present with me at #ACES2005 in Hollywood. It was bit of nerd heaven for those of us who love numbers as well as words.”
“Henry really showed us all what it’s like to lead and edit with grace,” former ACES President Teresa Schmedding said. “For Henry, it was never about being at the top. It was about how many others he could pull up with him. He possessed a rare combination of brilliance, tenacity, gentleness and generosity. We all lost an amazing advocate and friend.”
“The words kind, levelheaded, generous, smart, self-effacing, all will be easily said about Henry,” wrote Merrill Perlman, who preceded Henry as Education Fund president and also served on the ACES board of directors. “He may have often played the role of absent-minded professor, but it was just that: a role. That ‘I need help’ was a signature: always acknowledging the people who ‘helped’ him, as if he had nothing to do with it. He lifted people up without their knowing it.
“He claims to have been reluctant to accept the presidency of the ACES Education Fund, but he was thrilled and proud to be able to help dozens of young editors to follow in his large and lasting footsteps.”
ACES will be committed to honoring Henry by continuing his work advocating for editors as well as diversity and inclusion, and helping student and mid-career editors develop their careers. Our hearts are broken by the loss of not only a great editor, mentor and leader but also a person we befriended, admired and loved.
- Neil Holdway, ACES President