John L. Selover, 72; Publisher of Christian Science Monitor

From Associated Press

John Lewis Selover, publisher of the Christian Science Monitor and a Christian Science Church leader who helped shepherd the church’s expansion, has died. He was 72.

Selover, of Boston, died Friday “among family, after a brief illness at home,” said Peter Osterlund, spokesman for the Christian Science board of directors.

Osterlund said the family had declined to specify the nature of Selover’s illness.

Selover was elected to the board of directors in 1985 and later became the board’s vice chairman. In 1998, he became manager of the Christian Science Publishing Society, which publishes the daily newspaper in Boston.

During his tenure as publisher, the newspaper won a Pulitzer Prize for its political cartoons and expanded and redesigned its Web site, increasing online readership fivefold, said Editor Paul Van Slambrouck.


Calling him “an editor’s dream publisher,” Van Slambrouck remembered Selover’s fearlessness and enthusiasm.

“He was just fiercely protective of the paper’s independence; he was very encouraging of bringing diverse views onto the op-ed page,” Van Slambrouck said. “But, at the end of the day, he made it fun. For all the seriousness we see in the business every day, he saw no reason it shouldn’t be fun.”

Van Slambrouck recalled that Selover established a personal rapport with everyone at the Monitor, from new staffers to the top editors, and kept his hand in the newsroom by reading editorials and stories before they were published. He also was a music lover who relaxed by playing show tunes on the piano and regularly attending the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s concerts.

A San Francisco native and the son of Christian Scientists, Selover graduated from Principia College in Illinois and served in the Army before returning to San Francisco to start an advertising career. He later worked in marketing and public relations.

Selover became a Christian Science “practitioner” -- a spiritual healer -- in 1975 and a teacher of Christian Science in 1982.

He served the church in many capacities, including as manager of community and public affairs from 1970 through 1975, when the 14-acre Christian Science Plaza in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood was built.

His main role during that time was to work with the community, said Karen Craft, chairwoman of the publishing society’s board of trustees.

“At the time there was a lot of uncertainty and concern,” Craft said. “His job was to work with all the residents, the little ladies and the men who had lived there for ages, and listen to them, assure them and comfort them, which he did splendidly.”

Selover helped found the Fenway Alliance, a coalition of some of Boston’s cultural institutions, and served as a board member until 1998. He also was on the governing board of the Washington, D.C.-based National Foundation for Women Legislators.

He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth; a daughter and a son; two grandchildren; and a brother. A memorial service was being planned for the end of August.