People Remembered: Pete Hamill

Pete Hamill, left, poses with Charles M. Sennott at the 2011 OPC Foundation Scholar Luncheon. Photo: Michael Dames.

Veteran reporter, editor and columnist Pete Hamill, husband of OPC member Fukiko Hamill, died on Aug. 5 in Brooklyn at age 85. He was an OPC member from 1999 to 2009.

Robert D. McFadden wrote a detailed obituary of Hamill and his storied career for The New York Times that can be read here.

OPC member Charles M. Sennott, the founder and CEO of The GroundTruth Project, shared a remembrance of his friend and colleague with the OPC.

“Pete Hamill was the voice of New York City, but he was also a citizen of the world and his overseas reporting is perhaps less well known,” he said. “Pete wrote from Vietnam, Nicaragua, Northern Ireland and was the editor of The Mexico City News. He provided memorable live coverage of the fall of the wall in Berlin and, as the Soviet satellites crumbled, he closely chronicled the rising freedom in East Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic. One of the proudest and most rewarding moments as Executive Editor at GlobalPost, the online news organization I co-founded in 2009 which is now folded into Public Radio International, was having Pete write for us. He did a very memorable essay on the 20th anniversary of the fall of the wall which is on the PRI website here. Pete always had the same approach to his writing whether it was in Brooklyn or Berlin, to find the people who were not being heard and give them a voice.”

Former OPC Executive Director Sonya Fry remembered Hamill’s time as member in the 2000s, recalling that In addition to his career as journalist, editor and author, Hamill became a Distinguished Writer-in-Residence at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. He edited a Library of America book on the World War II writings of A.J. Liebling, and the OPC organized a Book Night with members and students at the journalism school on March 31, 2008.

Hamill, center left, with students at NYU in 2008. Photo courtesy of Sonya Fry.

Hamill told students at the event that “I think Liebling’s one of those rare journalists who made journalism his literature.”

Fry recalled Hamill’s inscription to her in the book, “For Sonya, Long Life, Much Laughter,” adding that it “sums up his love of life and writing.”