Wanda Jane Owen Held, former features editor of the Glendale News-Press, died June 12 in a retirement facility in Modesto. She was 96.
She was born on July 14, 1914 in East Liverpool, Ohio. Her early career was spent touring as a professional opera singer and model. Her interests were classical music, the arts and taking cruises.
From the early 1970s to 1976, she wrote features and covered society news under the byline of Wanda Owen for the former Ledger Newspapers, said Steve Carpenter, who was the production manager of the newspaper group. Her articles ran in the Ledger, serving La Crescenta, La Cañada Flintridge, Montrose and parts of Pasadena, as well as in the Glendale Ledger and Burbank Ledger.
“She was great, easy-going, very non-assuming and never had a bad word to say about anybody,” Carpenter said.
Held became editor of the People Section for the Glendale News-Press from the late 1970s to the mid-1980s.
“Wanda worked very hard and never complained about work,” said retired News-Press managing editor Al Friedenthal. “She was a lady with a lot of class.”
Vicki Smith Paluch worked as a reporter for Held in the People Section from 1979 to 1982 at the News-Press. It was Paluch’s first full-time newspaper job. Held encouraged Paluch to follow her curiosity, her instincts and desire to change the world, Paluch said.
“She was a stickler for crisp, lively [Associated Press] style and balance,” she said. “Wanda lived for the community volunteers who worked so hard to make Glendale a better place.”
Held also organized the News-Press Woman of Achievement awards program during that time, said longtime friend Ruth Charles.
“She was a natural at handling the program,” Charles said. “She made it very professional and she got the best judges. Everything was on the up-and-up.”
Held continued to write a column titled “Someone You Should Know” after she retired. She left Glendale in 1998 to be near her daughter.
She is survived by her daughter, Marianne Peck; granddaughters Shana Smith of Salida and Emily Peck; and two great-grandchildren.
She will be buried near her husband, Russell, and her parents at Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale.