- The Washington Times - Friday, December 12, 2003

Michael “Mikey” Avenenti, a copy editor at The Washington Times, died this week of natural causes at his Arlington home. He was 62.

“Mikey came to The Times when the newspaper was very new, and he was one of a handful of veterans of the long march. We will miss him, his quiet enthusiasm and the great care he took with words. His cheerful demeanor will be missed most of all,” said Wesley Pruden, editor in chief of The Washington Times.

Mr. Avenenti was born May 29, 1941, in Phoenix, and attended Arizona State University, where he majored in journalism. He later was honorably discharged as a sergeant from the Arizona National Guard.

He worked at the Arizona Republic, United Press International’s Philadelphia/New Jersey bureau and the Federal Railroad Administration during the Carter administration.

He took a year off after working with the Federal Railroad Administration to be with his ailing mother before joining The Times on Jan. 1, 1983. He was hired by David Levine, who was The Times’ financial editor and had known Mr. Avenenti since 1970.

“We were very close friends,” said Mr. Levine, editor of the Tribune-Democrat of Johnstown, Pa. “He had a very wry sense of humor. He was erudite and a fast writer, which you have to be working for a wire service.

“He loved politics. He was an incessant reader of newspapers from all over the world.”

Merle Jacobsen, a copy editor at The Times, said Mr. Avenenti “took me under his wing when I first got here in 1988. … We often went out after work. He had a good sense of humor.”

Mr. Avenenti was an avid outdoorsman who “loved to fish in the Chesapeake Bay,” said his sister, Patricia Ashworth of Salisbury, N.C. “He always said, ‘I want my ashes scattered in the Bay,’ so we may sprinkle some … out there.”

Mr. Avenenti took pride in his family and their accomplishments, particularly his sister’s work as a hospice nurse overseas.

“He was terribly proud of what I do,” said Mrs. Ashworth. “When he found out I was working to help open a hospice center in [the Republic of] Moldova, he cut [the project] a very nice check. I couldn’t believe it when I opened the envelope. But that’s the type he was — not a mushy person, but a really sweet guy.”

A Civil War buff, Mr. Avenenti contributed articles to The Times’ Civil War Page. He also often talked of his desire to visit the battlefield site of Gen. George A. Custer’s last stand.

In addition to his sister, he is survived by brother-in-law Wayne Ashworth, one niece and four nephews.

Mr. Avenenti’s family have requested that his remains be cremated. No funeral arrangements have been made.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Moldova Hospice Fund at the Carolinas Center for Hospice and End of Life Care, P.O. Box 4449, 2400 Weston Parkway, Cary, NC 27519-449.

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