Fred Pettijohn, founding editor of the Sun-Sentinel and namesake of the newspaper's annual awards, died last night. He was 91.
Former Sentinel editor and writing coach John de Groot writes of his mentor:
Fred Pettijohn, my friend and mentor for 35 years died last night shortly before 8 o'clock after several weeks in a coma.
His son Philip, knowing his father's life-long love of the game and believing our hearing is the last thing we lose on our deathbed, had the Cubs-Brewers game on when his father passed away at home in Tallahassee.
He was one of the few men I've known who enjoyed listening to other people more than talking about himself.
As an editor, he loved good story-telling and always tried to place the needs of his community first.
"The people we serve are the only reason newspapers are protected by the First Amendment," Fred once told me. "Unfortunately, I'm afraid most journalists today think it gives the right to print crap."
I believe one of the most difficult decisions Fred made during his life was several years back when failing health forced him and his late wife Elaine to leave Fort Lauderdale after more than 50 years and move to Tallahassee to be near their sons Philip and Mark and their two grandchildren.
He was the founding editor of the Sun-Sentinel and a member of the Florida Newspaper Hall of Fame who mourned the slow death of print journalism under the greed-driven leadership of corporate profit pigs. Finally, he was the only editor I ever worked for who prayed daily -- but rarely, if ever, spoke about it.