SARASOTA — Gilbert Cranberg, a former editor of the Des Moines Register and Des Moines Tribune and guest columnist for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, died March 11 of pneumonia. He was 93.
“Gil Cranberg was a pro’s pro,” Herald-Tribune Opinion Page Editor Thomas Tryon said. “He wrote with clarity and the no-nonsense language one would expect from an editor in the Midwest. He submitted his columns quietly, letting the content stand on its own. Gil was both a practitioner and professor of his craft, and he took both jobs seriously. He held himself and other journalists to the highest of standards; for that alone, he will be missed.”
A native of New York City with Jewish Russian roots, Cranberg served in the infantry in the Pacific in World War II.
During 33 years with the newspapers in Des Moines, Iowa, Cranberg supervised up to 12 staff members and the editorial pages of both publications.
“Through his articles and editorials about criminal justice issues he was instrumental in establishing in Des Moines one of the nation’s first bail-reform programs,” his family stated. “His writings focused on civil rights, inequality, politics, the media, Supreme Court ethics, law and criminal justice.”
As the George H. Gallup Professor of Journalism at the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where he taught for 18 years, Cranberg founded the Libel Research Project, co-authored the award-winning “Libel Law and the Press: Myth and Reality,” and wrote “Taking Stock: Journalism and the Publicly Traded Newspaper Company.”
His writings appeared in numerous publications including The New York Times, Washington Post, St. Petersburg Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, Columbia Journalism Review, American Bar Association Journal and others.
“Keeping up with the times,” his son Lee Cranberg noted, Cranberg also became a blogger with TruthBlog.us. “He made blog posts approximately a couple times per month until age 91, when the ravages of age finally stilled his keyboard after 66 years.”
“To me, one definition of courage might be quiet persistence,” his daughter Marcia Wolff said in her eulogy. “Dad had this in spades. And it was leavened with a nature of integrity, modesty, sweetness and an absolutely great sense of humor.”
A memorial service was conducted Tuesday. Burial and graveside services are to be in Des Moines.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Des Moines Library Foundation, Iowa Jewish Senior Life Center, Jewish Housing Council Foundation of Sarasota and American Civil Liberties Union.