Neal Shine, former Detroit Free Press publisher, dies


DETROIT -- Neal Shine, who began as a copy boy for Detroit Free Press and worked his way up to become its managing editor and later its publisher, died Tuesday of respiratory failure after a recent illness. He was 76.

Shine was diagnosed with lymphatic cancer in 1993 and overcame it, but recent tests found it had returned. He also had a case of pneumonia, the newspaper reported in a story on its Web site. He died surrounded by his family at a hospital.

Shine was "iconic to journalists across the country -- his name was larger than life, standing for excellence, courage and integrity," said Paul Anger, the Free Press editor and vice president.

Shine retired twice -- first in 1989, as senior managing editor and columnist. He returned a year later as publisher, a post he held until 1995, when he retired during a lengthy strike against the paper. He was managing editor from 1971-82.

First hired at the Free Press in 1950, Shine was city editor when the paper won the Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the 1967 Detroit riot. As a reporter, he exposed the mishandling of cases in the Macomb County juvenile courts.

He helped implement the joint operating agreement that merged the business and production operations of the Free Press and its rival, The Detroit News.

Shine also was an impassioned civic activist and Detroit booster, raising piles of pennies to preserve a downtown statue of Abraham Lincoln and collecting more than 1,000 baseball gloves for children in the Dominican Republic.

He wrote in 1986 that he sometimes feared asking too much of his hometown. He wrote, "But the truth is, I always know that you are there, ready to do what has to be done to take some of the sharp edges off life in this town."

Shine is survived by his wife Phyllis and six children.