Deaths in the SEJ Family

Berle, Peter  |  Box, Brenda  |  Braasch, Gary  |  Brasch, Walter  |  Brush, Mark  |  Cameron, Silver Donald  |  Carmody, Kevin  |  Colton, Hannah  |  Cresson, Jim  |  Dempsey, Dale  |  Desbarats, Peter  |  Dunne, Mike  |  Durbin, Kathie  |  Freemuth, John  |  Freudenburg, Bill  |  Frome, Michael  |  Gorrie, Peter  |  Grossman, Elizabeth  |  Grove, Noel  |  Hansen, Terri  |  Henriksen, Clem  |  Hulsey, George  |  Lopez, Barry  |  Lord, Peter  |  MacClennan, Paul  |  Ocko, Stephanie  |  Reuther, Christopher  |  Rivlin, Michael  |  Sachsman, David  |  Schneider, Stephen  |  Schwartz, Debra  |  Stolberg, David  |  Valenti, JoAnn  |  van Dam, Laura  |  Walker, James  |  Weegar, Andrew  |  Weinhold, Bob


Terri Hansen, d. August 18, 2023

SEJ members were saddened to learn that Terri Crawford Hansen, who first joined SEJ in 1994, passed away. Terri, "a powerful and big-hearted truth teller," was a member of the Winnebago tribe of Nebraska and a long-time journalist, covering environment, climate, science, tribal and Indigenous issues for multiple publications. Read more here.




JoAnn Valenti, d. July 23, 2023

SEJ members are saddened to learn of the passing of longtime member and volunteer JoAnn Valenti on July 23, 2023. JoAnn joined SEJ in October of 1990. Her volunteer work for SEJ had been primarily behind-the-scenes work that quietly spread SEJ's name over several continents. Read more here.




David Sachsman, d. October 6, 2022

SEJ members mourn the passing of David Sachsman, the George R. West Jr. Chair of Excellence in Communication and Public Affairs at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, on October 6, 2022. David was an SEJ member since 1993. He co-chaired two annual conferences in Chattanooga. Read more here.




Stephanie Ocko, d. July 22, 2022

SEJ lost long-time member Stepanie Ocko on July 22. Stephanie was a prolific writer and author. Our sincere condolences to her partner and fellow SEJ member Roger Archibald. Read more here.




Noel Grove, d. January 8, 2022

Noel Grove, a founding member of SEJ and one-time SEJournal editor, and a former environment editor for National Geographic, is remembered by long-time members. He died Jan. 8. Read more here.




Peter Gorrie, d. January 4, 2021

The world has lost Peter Gorrie, Canadian journalist of renown, who died January 4, 2021 after a long bout with cancer. He was a kind and gentle soul who spoke thoughtfully and deliberately. A journalist who reported heavily on cleaner cars later in his career, but cycled to pub nights and other events! Deeply knowledgeable, yet unpretentious. Peter generously shared his expertise and contacts with new environmental journalists and old hands alike. Read more here.



Barry Lopez, d. December 25, 2020

SEJ members lamented the Dec. 25 death of renowned nature writer Barry Lopez, whose writings included "Arctic Dreams," "Of Wolves and Men" and more. Lopez gave SEJers a much-remembered address about writing, environmental journalism and more at the Barbra Streisand ranch in Malibu during the organization's 1999 annual conference in Los Angeles. Read more here.



Hannah Colton, d. November 10, 2020

SEJ mourns the death of member Hannah Colton. KUNM interim news director Colton covered not only environmental issues, but also mental health, homelessness, COVID-19, elections, politics and protests that rocked the state over the past few years. Read more here.



Silver Donald Cameron, d. June 1, 2020

SEJ is saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Canadian SEJ member Silver Donald Cameron, a renowned author, writer, broadcaster, filmmaker and teacher based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. A member since 2010, Cameron left a mountainous legacy of work which will serve generations to come. Read more here.



John Freemuth, d. May 2, 2020

John Freemuth was a stalwart supporter of SEJ and it was his vision to bring SEJ's 2020 conference to Boise State University. [This, unfortunately, did not happen due to the COVID-19 pandemic.] As the inaugural chair of the university's Andrus Center for Public Policy, he upheld the legacy of its namesake by leading a national dialogue on public lands policy. Read more here.



Mark Brush, d. March 12, 2018

Mark Brush, Michigan Radio's digital director and editor @environreport, lost his battle with brain cancer on March 12, 2018. He was an SEJ member since 1999 and served as a contest judge in our Awards for Reporting on the Environment. He will be missed. Read Mark's obituary.



Paul MacClennan, d. October 2, 2017

Paul H. MacClennan, a long-time SEJ member and award-winning Buffalo News environmental writer, died October 2, 2017 at the age of 91. More.




Elizabeth Grossman, d. July 28, 2017

The SEJ family mourns the loss of SEJ member Elizabeth Grossman, who passed away on July 28, 2017. Lizzie was an accomplished independent environmental health journalist whose incisive reporting, deep passion for her work and infectious humor earned her respect and admiration from those who knew her and worked alongside her. Lizzie was a fierce advocate for SEJ support for freelance journalists. In her honor, SEJ has established "The Lizzie," a $1,500 fellowship to SEJ's annual conference beginning with SEJ 2017 in Pittsburgh. The fellowship will go to an SEJ freelance member who has not attended the annual conference in at least three years. Read more about Lizzie and the fellowship here.


Walter Brasch, d. February 9, 2017

SEJ lost long-time member Walter Braasch on Feb. 9, 2017 at the age of 71. Walter, a prolific author of 20 books, was a former award-winning newspaper reporter and editor, and professor emeritus of mass communications and journalism at Bloomsburg University. His last book, "Fracking America: Sacrificing Health and the Environment for Short-Term Economic Benefit" was published in 2015. Read Walter's obituary.


Michael Frome, d. September 4, 2016

SEJ members were saddened by the Sept. 4, 2016 death of Michael Frome, at age 96, in Port Washington, Wisc. A gifted advocate for national parks and wilderness areas, Frome’s writing spanned both the post-WWII conservation movement and the environmental movement of the latter 20th century. He authored a dozen books, such as "Rediscovering National Parks in the Spirit of John Muir" (2015) and "Strangers in High Places: The Story of the Great Smoky Mountains" (1994). He also received numerous conservation writing awards. Read more.


Bob Weinhold, d. June 6, 2016

Bob Weinhold, an SEJ member from 1999 - 2015 and TipSheet reporter, died on June 6, 2016, after a 25-year battle with environmental illnesses. Read more.


Debra Schwartz, d. May 6, 2016

SEJ mourns the death of Debra Schwartz, SEJ member since 1995, and previously a mentor in SEJ's Mentor Program. Debra was found dead on Sunday, May 8, 2016, after an apparent fall into a canyon. Read more here.



Gary Braasch, d. March 7, 2016

The community that comprises the Society of Environmental Journalists and environmental journalism were enhanced beyond measure by Gary Braasch. We celebrate his life, and mourn his unexpected death March 7, 2016, while documenting climate change along the Great Barrier Reef. SEJ’ers have many cherished memories of working with Gary. He was greatly loved, and will be greatly missed. We honor Gary's memory, his work and his generosity of spirit. Read more here.


Clem Henriksen, d. August 21, 2015

SEJ honors the memory of Clem Henriksen, who passed away on August 21, 2015. Clem enriched SEJ not only with his good humor and ready smile, but also with serious expertise on Geographic Information Systems. His work over many years helped journalists develop skills for mapping as a storytelling platform. He was also the supportive husband of Carolyn Whetzel, long-serving SEJ board member and conference chair. Read more, and post your remembrances here.


Peter Desbarats, d. February 11, 2014

SEJ and journalism lost an icon on Tuesday, February 11, 2014 with the passing of Canadian print and broadcast journalist Peter Desbarats at the age of 80. Peter was a member of SEJ's advisory board, served two years as an SEJ Awards for Reporting on the Environment judge, and moderated a panel on energy, "Tales From the Oilpatch: From Canada to the Midwest," in October 2009 at SEJ's 19th Annual Conference in Madison, Wisconsin. Read more here.


Kathie Durbin, d. March 15, 2013

SEJ members and staff mourn the loss of award-winning environmental journalist Kathie Durbin, an SEJ member since 1996. A dedicated reporter and author, determined to make her final deadline, Kathie completed her last book before passing on March 15, 2013; The Columbia River Gorge: Bridging a Great Divide is scheduled to be published by OSU Press. Read Cascadia Times colleague Paul Koberstein's tribute to Kathie, as well as other coverage, and post your remembrances here. © Image: Courtesy Elizabeth Feryl.


Brenda M. Box, d. March 7, 2013

Some voices can never be silenced, even when they're rarely heard. National Public Radio (NPR) associate newscast editor Brenda Box was one of those essential behind-the-scenes voices, whose editorial work shaped daily newscasts, and whose personal wisdom and wicked wit made for long-lasting, far-flung friendships. Box died of pancreatic cancer March 7, 2013. © Photo courtesy Kathy Rushlow. Read more.


Peter B. Lord, d. April 4, 2012

The SEJ community was devastated this week by the death of Peter B. Lord on Wednesday, April 4. Peter was one of the most focused, most inspired and most inspiring environmental journalists in the membership. Our sympathies go out to his family, his colleagues and the readers who will be missing his expertise and unique reports. Photo credit: © Curt Milton. Read more.


David Stolberg, d. May 24, 2011

SEJ is saddened to share news from Mike Phillips, executive director of the Scripps Howard Foundation: SEJ founder David Stolberg died May 24, 2011. He was 84. Members will recall that "The Stolberg Award" is SEJ's highest organizational recognition for meritorious volunteer service. We'll be honoring him in various ways this year, and very proud to give out The Stolberg as long as member-volunteers continue to power this group the way that they (you) surely do. Read more.


Bill Freudenburg, d. December 28, 2010

William R. Freudenburg, author, educator, science communicator and beloved member of the SEJ community, died at his home in Santa Barbara, CA, on Dec 28, 2010. He was 59. As a professor of environmental studies at UC Santa Barbara, Bill wrote and spoke thoughtfully and often about the need for scientists to engage the public. He worked consistently in various settings to improve communication between scientists and journalists. He also wanted journalists to understand the professional risks scientists take in this process, a topic he explored last year for SEJournal. Bill was still sharing his wry humor and best advice with us through the fall, when SEJ board and staff were finalizing plans for a board meeting, roundtable with UCSB faculty and public program on environmental journalism that will take place at UC Santa Barbara later this month, truly in his memory. Read more. UCSB video website in Bill's honor.


Stephen Schneider, d. July 19, 2010

"Stephen H. Schneider, a Stanford biology professor and a leading researcher in climate change, has died. Schneider was flying from a science meeting in Stockholm, Sweden, to London on July 19, when he apparently suffered a heart attack. He was 65....He had been at Stanford University since 1992 and was a lead author among scientists on the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which shared the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former Vice President Al Gore....Schneider was influential in the public debate over climate change and wrote a book, Science as a Contact Sport: Inside the Battle to Save Earth's Climate, about his experiences. He also wrote a book about his battle with leukemia, Patient from Hell." Read more.


Peter Berle, d. November 1, 2007

President of Sky Farm Productions Inc., which produced environmental programming for public television, and a familiar and friendly face at SEJ conferences for years. Read more here.


Mike Dunne, d. July 8, 2007

Ground-breaking environmental reporter in Louisiana and SEJournal associate editor. Read more here.




Christopher Reuther, d. April 26, 2007

Environmental journalist, photographer and graphic artist. Read more here.




Dale Dempsey, d. August 23, 2006

Former Dayton Daily News environment reporter. Read more here.


Laura van Dam, d. April 24, 2006

SEJ member and president of the National Association of Science Writers. Read more here.


Jim Cresson, d. March 13, 2006

Longtime Delaware journalist. Read more here.


George H. Hulsey, d. January 15, 2006

Physician and outdoor editor of The Norman (OK) Transcript. Read more here.


Andrew Weegar, d. April 19, 2005

Naturalist, woodsman, fisherman, canoe builder, river guide, farmer, land steward, teacher, writer and associate director of IJNR (Institute for Journalism and Natural Resources). Read more here.


Kevin Carmody, d. March 9, 2005

Founding board member of SEJ and award-winning journalist lived SEJ's mission. Read more here.




Michael Rivlin, d. May 31, 2003

A superb journalist who believed deeply in the cause of improving environmental journalism by building a network of committed environmental journalists. Read more here.




James Walker, d. April 9, 2003

Staff writer for the (Jackson, Mississippi) Clarion-Ledger and energetic volunteer for SEJ. Read more here.




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