Harry Press ‘39, a former Daily managing editor, journalist and longtime managing director of the Knight Journalism Fellowship Program, died Wednesday morning. He was 93.
“[Harry] was indefatigable, and his optimism and joie de vivre were legendary,” wrote Jim Bettinger, current director of the program, in an email to a program mailing list. “Nobody who ever met Harry forgot him.”
Born in Santa Monica, Press arrived at Stanford in 1935 and served as a staffer at The Daily for all four of his undergraduate years, including a stint as managing editor during his senior year. A Daily scholarship, entitled the Harry Press Award, has since been endowed by fellow Daily alumnus Lorry Lokey ‘49.
After graduating, Press spent 25 years at California publications—including the Palo Alto Times and the San Francisco News—and a year as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard before returning to the Farm in 1966 as the founding editor of the alumni newspaper, The Stanford Observer.
“He was one of the most ebullient individuals I’ve ever known,” said Marion Lewenstein, professor emeritus of communication, who first met Press shortly before he returned to Stanford. “He was unendingly upbeat, cheerful and out to improve the world by being nice to every individual he encountered.”
Soon after founding the alumni newspaper, Press joined the Knight Journalism Fellowship program, for which he served as managing editor from 1967 to 1989.
“He was extremely easy to work with—helpful, cheerful, efficient,” Lewenstein reflected.
Beyond his work in journalism, Press was known as a passionate Stanford sports fan and an avid supporter of The Daily, interests he continued in retirement. When his daughter Lindi ‘67 MLA ‘03 passed away last month, Press welcomed the opportunity to see out-of-town relatives one more time at Stanford.
“”He was funny and positive, but super tired,” Bettinger quoted Press’ son Tony as saying of his father’s last day. “It was just time.”
While arrangements for Press’ memorial service have yet to be set, he expressed his preference in an advance obituary that they be held at Sunken Diamond.
“All sorts of plaudits are coming in from people who were in the program,” Lewenstein said. “He changed their life, he made life so simple for them here at Stanford, if they were foreigners he made them feel good about being in America. He was just helpful in every way.”
Correction: In an earlier version of this story, The Daily incorrectly stated that Harry Press died on Thursday, February 7th. In fact, Press died on Wednesday, February 6th. The Daily regrets the error.