Stephen Burgard dies at 66; Times’ Orange County editorial page editor

Award-winning journalist Stephen Burgard, who was editorial page editor of The Times’ Orange County edition in the 1990s and early 2000s and more recently director of the Northeastern University school of journalism, died Sunday at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He was 66.

The cause was a long-standing lung ailment, said his son Patrick Burgard.

Times editorials penned by Stephen Burgard covered a wide variety of topics, sometimes skewering long-established institutions in his coverage area. When Disneyland employees in 1999 stalled Anaheim police from investigating the scene of a fatal accident, he wrote, “The land of make-believe should give way to the scrutiny and standards of the real world.”


He frequently took on situations having to do with religion and its intersection with politics. When a Buena Park minister was convicted of illegally housing the homeless in 1997, Burgard wrote, “The city has had a lot to say about zoning and far too little about the homelessness situation.” But he also called for finding a “common ground” that would provide care for the homeless while also providing security for concerned neighbors.

His 1997 book, “Hallowed Ground: Rediscovering Our Spiritual Roots,” advocated for interfaith groups to bind together in grass-roots efforts to take on community problems.

Burgard was born Sept. 7, 1948 in Boston. He earned a bachelor’s degree in American history from Brown University in 1970, then served two years in the Navy. Returning to school, he got a master’s degree in public relations from Boston University.

He worked for several East Coast papers, including the Stamford Advocate in Connecticut. In 1990 Burgard came to The Times, where his editorials won several awards from the Orange County and Greater Los Angeles press clubs. He also served on the paper’s editorial board.

Burgard left The Times in 2002 and joined the faculty at Northeastern, in Boston. On numerous occasions, he was quoted in news accounts about how the press and broadcast media handled major stories.

One of his loves, apart from journalism, was baseball and specifically the Boston Red Sox. In a 1990 essay for The Times’ Sports section, he wrote about the fact that as of that year, the Sox had not won a World Series since 1918 when his grandfather was rooting for the team.

“We who are the pained Red Sox fans of today have lost more than our dear relatives and their first-hand recollections,” he wrote. “We have lost the living memory of longed-for victory.”

In addition to his son Patrick, who lives in Lexington, Mass., he is survived by daughter Helen Burgard of Lexington and son Andrew Burgard of Claremont; sister Elizabeth Dater-Jennings of Greenwich, Conn., half-sister Robyn Snow of Brewster, Mass., and half-brother Christopher Snow of Provincetown, Mass. His marriage to Sharon Burgard ended in divorce.

Twitter: @davidcolker