Jeanne Voltz, a pioneering newspaper food editor, died Monday of pneumonia at the University of North Carolina hospital in Chapel Hill. She was 81 and had been living in Pittsboro, N.C.
Voltz was food editor at the Los Angeles Times from 1960 to 1973, coming to the paper from the Miami Herald, where she had worked since 1947. Voltz left The Times to become food editor of Woman’s Day magazine, a job she held until her retirement in 1984.
She was one of the first newspaper food editors of the modern era, when the sections were edited by journalists rather than by the advertising department. But Voltz had to be convinced to take the job.
A feature writer for the Birmingham News and Mobile Press-Register, when she got to the Herald she was pushed in the direction of the women’s pages. “I didn’t want to do clubs and I certainly didn’t want to do society and fashion,” she once told a reporter.
“They had decided food was big news. They had figured out women were the ones who decided what to subscribe to.’
Voltz wrote nine cookbooks, including “The Los Angeles Times Natural Food Cookbook” in 1973 and “The L.A. Gourmet: Favorite Recipes from Famous Los Angeles Restaurants,” co-written with Burks Hamner and published in 1971.
More recently, she wrote “Barbecued Ribs, Smoked Butts and Other Great Feeds,” which was named one of the best cookbooks of the year in 1985.
Born in Collinsville, Ala., in the last several years she had become active in the Society for the Preservation of Southern Food and was an advocate for her native cuisine. Her last book was “The Country Ham Book,” published in 1999.
“The South has the kind of climate that grows certain things the way no other place in the country does,” she once said. “I’ve worked in Los Angeles and New York, but you can’t ever get away from grits and greens.’
She is survived by her children, Jeanne M. Voltz, a food stylist in New York, and Luther Manship Voltz, a Woodland Hills software engineer.