PASSINGS: Deborah Howell, Jeanette Scola Trapani

PASSINGS: Deborah Howell, Jeanette Scola Trapani
Journalism "should be enlightening, fair, honest and as transparent as possible," Deborah Howell wrote in her first column as ombudsman for the Washington Post. (Julia Ewan / Associated Press)
Deborah Howell

Veteran journalist

Deborah Howell, 68, a former Washington Post ombudsman and veteran editor who helped lead two news organizations to three Pulitzer Prizes, died Saturday after being struck by a car while vacationing in New Zealand, stepson Nick Coleman said.

Born in San Antonio, Howell was raised in Texas, where her father was a newspaper reporter, editor and broadcaster and her mother had been editor of her high school newspaper. Howell graduated from the University of Texas and worked for newspapers in the state before moving to Minnesota in 1965 to be a reporter and editor at the Minneapolis Star.

In 1979, she began working at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, which she led to two Pulitzers as top editor.

She left in 1990 to become Washington bureau chief and then editor of Newhouse News Service, which won a Pulitzer during her tenure.

Howell joined the Washington Post in 2005 as ombudsman, advocating for the interests of readers, and held the position until 2008.

"My values simply are these: Journalism should be as accurate as human beings can make it, and it should be enlightening, fair, honest and as transparent as possible," she wrote in her first column as ombudsman, in October 2005. "Mistakes should be acknowledged and quickly corrected. When you finish reading the Post, you should feel more informed than when you began. I truly believe a democracy can't operate without a free press. But I also can't live without 'Doonesbury' or 'Opus' on Sunday."

Howell lived in Glen Echo, Md.

At the time of the accident, she was vacationing with her husband, former University of Minnesota President C. Peter Magrath. She was married to former Minnesota Senate Majority Leader Nicholas Coleman until his death in 1981.

Jeanette Scola Trapani

San Francisco quake survivor

Jeanette Scola Trapani, 107, one of the oldest survivors of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, died Monday at her home in El Dorado Hills near Sacramento after suffering from pneumonia, her daughter Dolores Legge said.

Trapani, who was born April 21, 1902, on San Francisco's Telegraph Hill, had clear memories of the disaster even though she was a few days shy of her fourth birthday when the quake struck April 18, 1906.

"She vividly remembered the terrible smell of the smoke from the burning city and how she and her family had to live in a tent in the Presidio," Legge told the San Francisco Chronicle.

Trapani, who gave private piano lessons, married in 1929. She and her husband, Vincent, who was in the beverage business, lived in Southern California for many years before returning to Northern California in the 1970s, according to the Chronicle.

-- times staff and wire reports