Bob Haring, former executive editor of the Tulsa World, died Saturday. He was 86.
A memorial service is pending under the direction of Stanleys Funeral and Cremation Services.
A distinguished, pioneering journalist, Haring served as the World’s executive editor from 1981-95.
“Bob was a consummate journalist,” said Susan Ellerbach, the World’s executive editor. “He hired me and many others here and gave us our chance to work for a top-notch organization. His dedication to the Tulsa community was admirable and inspiring.”
Wayne Greene, editor of the Tulsa World’s editorial pages, also was a Haring hire, and a neighbor of Haring’s for many years.
“Bob was a hard-working, creative guy who loved the Tulsa World and worked tirelessly to make it a vital part of its readers’ lives,” Greene said.
A native of Missouri and a graduate of the University of Missouri, Haring started his journalism career in 1954 as city editor of The Southern Illinoisan in Carbondale, Illinois.
He served two years in the U.S. Army during the Korean War. During his military service, he met and married Jo Houser, who preceded him in death in 1991.
In 1959, Haring began a 16-year career as a journalist and executive with The Associated Press. He covered racial turmoil in Little Rock, Arkansas, and Newark, New Jersey, as an AP reporter. He also spent several years in Tulsa as the wire service’s local correspondent. As New Jersey bureau chief, he conceived and implemented Task Force ‘70, which brought together the talents of all the state’s AP papers in a forward-looking evaluation of the state. The effort would be nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. In 1971, he was named director of financial services, overseeing business news and financial statistical services, for The Associated Press.
In 1975, he returned to local media as the Tulsa World’s Sunday editor and, starting in 1981, executive editor. He would serve in the newsroom’s top position until 1995, before his full retirement in 1997.
It was a time of growth and civic engagement for the newspaper.
Prior to Haring, top editorial positions at the World were almost exclusively held by men. A believer in equality, Haring moved women into leadership positions, including Ellerbach, who he promoted to business editor and, subsequently, Sunday editor; former Associate Managing Editor Pat Atkinson, former City Editor Debbie Jackson, former Entertainment Editor Cathy Logan and former Living Editor Rusty Lang.
Jackson remembered that Haring emphasized coverage of weather, often saying, “Weather affects everyone.”
At the helm of the World, Haring led several innovations, including “Fast Takes,” a reader-friendly synopsis of longer stories, and a daily Big Story, written on a third grade level for beginning readers.
Under his leadership, the World published books of notable front pages, recipe collections, gardening, problem-solving through Action Line and Tulsa Times, a three-volume pictorial history of the city.
He moved the newspaper aggressively into community events, which often showcased his dedication to running and physical fitness. He led the establishment of the Tulsa Run, the FreeWheel bike ride across Oklahoma, Tulsa Walk, and, with Downtown Tulsa Unlimited, the city’s longstanding chili-bluegrass festival. He inspired the annual Project ReDirectory telephone book recycling effort and helped found the Tulsa Mentoring Council and Tulsa Literacy Coalition. He conceived and implemented ReadUp, a literary training program that used the newspaper as a textbook.
Years later, when Haring was inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame, he would say, ‘‘The World was a great place to work, and its publisher, Bob Lorton, was in my time the best publisher in America to work for, because he gave us the freedom to experiment, to try new things and develop new programs.”
Haring was committed to community leadership, serving as chairman of Goodwill Industries and president of Tulsa Zoo Friends during expansion periods for both organizations. He served on the boards of River Parks Authority, Citizens Crime Commission, Youth Services of Tulsa, the Simon Estes Educational Foundation and the Center for Nonprofit Excellence.
Survivors include his wife, Carolyn, whom he married in 1995, of the home, and three sons, Robert, of Tulsa, and his wife, Debbie; Joel, of Houston, and his fiancee, Chris Dubois Mondshine; and Jonathan, of Tulsa, and his wife, Jessica.
Friends are making memorial contributions to Goodwill Industries of Tulsa, Ruth G. Hardman Adult Literacy Services and Tulsa Zoo.
Tulsa Police Sgt. Jennifer Murphy talks about the Tulsa Police new reading program and school supply handout at the Darlington Apartments.