- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Robert Menaker, retired editor in chief of the Atlanta Jewish Times and former business editor at The Washington Times, died Nov. 8 of brain cancer at his home in Sandy Springs, Ga. He was 61.

Mr. Menaker, who resided for years in Alexandria, held numerous writing and editing jobs in the region, including two stints at The Times during the 1990s.

Born in 1945 in the Bronx, N.Y., Mr. Menaker grew up in Miami Beach. He graduated from the University of Florida in 1966 with a degree in journalism.

While still in college, he began his journalism career, which spanned nearly four decades until his retirement in 2005.

He was renowned for his steel-trap mind and vast array of knowledge, which he put to use in the 1980s as a contestant on “Jeopardy!”

“Bob knew a little about so many things,” said Bernard Dagenais, editor of the Philadelphia Business Journal. He and Mr. Menaker were both deputy business editors at The Times before Mr. Menaker was named business editor.

“Ultimately, what made him stand out to me most, though, was his love of big ideas,” said Mr. Dagenais, who succeeded Mr. Menaker as business editor. “He was great at coming up with a framework, as he did for the Washington Business Times, that would resonate with readers.”

Mr. Menaker was a news editor at the Miami News from 1967 to 1973 before moving to the District to become an editor at the Washington Star for two years.

He worked for other publications in the following years, including The Washington Post from 1975 to 1977 as an editor for the sports and Style sections.

He also spent six years at Time-Life Books and briefly worked at the Knight Ridder/Tribune News Service.

Mr. Menaker was an assistant news editor at The Washington Times from 1991 to 1994. After two years as managing editor at the Washington Business Journal, he returned to The Times for three more years as business editor.

He also was key in the creation of the Washington Business Times, a weekly tabloid offshoot of the Times.

“Bob loved being a journalist — newspapering in particular — and was always full of ideas, from daily stories to long-term ideas,” said Cathy Gainor, Business editor at the Times.

“He sat across from me, and he would regale me with stories of the old days, as well as pepper our row with all types of history and trivia. And he was such a nice man, always concerned about our welfare. He would bend over backwards to help us out.”

After a year as the news editor for Congressional Quarterly, he and his family moved to Georgia, where he became editor in chief for the Atlanta Jewish Times in 2001. He retired for health reasons four years later.

“We had a small child at the time, and he wanted to get away from the pressure of D.C.’s political scene,” Dorothy, his wife of 14 years, said of the move. “We were ready to slow down a bit.”

His love of family is what impressed his colleagues and friends the most.

“Bob became a father late in life and I remember how tired he was from having a baby at home,” Mr. Dagenais said. “He kept a running dialogue about the special things his son, Ethan, would do, like babbling and crawling. We would joke that it was like he was the only person who ever had a kid, but you sure couldn’t knock his enthusiasm.”

Anne Veigle, a former colleague at The Washington Times, said she remembers Mr. Menaker’s joy upon finding out he would be a father.

“I was standing next to him in the newsroom when Dorothy called with the happy news that she was pregnant,” Mrs. Veigle said. “They had nearly given up hope. Bob’s hands shook with excitement. … Bob loved being a parent and couldn’t have been more thrilled when his son was born.”

Maria Stainer, assistant managing editor of features and culture at The Times, said her last memory of Mr. Menaker is him showing photos from his wallet of his son.

“It was clear from the gleam in Bob’s eye and the smile on his face that he loved his family greatly,” Mrs. Stainer said.

Survivors include his wife and son, both of Sandy Springs; and a sister, Joan Jackson of Hendersonville, N.C.

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