Madalynne Reuter, former longtime news editor of Publishers Weekly, fiction writer, and mother, died May 3 at the Amsterdam House nursing home in Manhattan. She was 90.
Reuter joined Publishers Weekly in 1975 as an associate editor in the News department (called The Week at the time) under then-PW news editor, Daisy Maryles, before rising to become editor of the section in 1976. She was news editor of Publishers Weekly for 16 years, retiring in 1992 after a career in publishing that spanned everything from the clubby New York publishing world of the 1950s to the rise of national bookstore chains and superstores in the 1980s, to the beginnings of the transformation of the publishing industry by the Internet and digital technology in the early 1990s.
Born in Santa Ana, Calif., in 1921, Reuter was the daughter of Herman Reuter, an editor and reporter at the Santa Ana Register, Hollywood Citizen-News, and an art critic for the L.A. Times. She graduated from UCLA sometime in the late 1930s and immediately moved east to Newark, N.J., and began working for the War Department during WWII. She didn’t work for the War Department long, though, before she moved to Manhattan and began working as an editor for women’s magazines, editing fiction and other articles, in addition to writing and publishing her own short fiction in many of the most highly regarded magazines of the day. In 1953 Reuter married Lawrence Kurtz in New York City and they had one child, John Kurtz, who survives his mother. The marriage ended in divorce in 1975.
During the 1960s Reuter published short stories in McCall’s, The Saturday Evening Post and Good Housekeeping, in addition to many other publications. Her short story “Waxing Roth” was awarded an O. Henry prize in 1966 and is included in the hardcover collection, Prize Stories 1967 O. Henry Awards, edited by William Abrahams and published by Doubleday in 1967.
Always elegant and poised and, in the custom of the time even in the 1980s, usually ensconced in her office with cigarette in hand, Reuter was particular about the writing of news stories and would punctuate her editorial directions with a series of jabs and gestures with that cigarette before emitting a stylish jet stream of smoke to wrap up the discussion. Reuter was described by John Baker, former longtime editor-in-chief of Publishers Weekly, as “calm, cool and sophisticated; aristocratic and always under control.” She was also responsible for hiring this reporter, who joined Publishers Weekly in 1986 as her assistant. The gig was won, despite my lack of any significant qualifications, on the basis of a very short written test and a lot of faith.