Become a digitalPLUS subscriber. 99¢ for 4 weeks.
NewsObituaries

Christopher Gaul, editor and reporter

ChristianityRoman CatholicismTelevision StationsTelevision IndustryOrganized CrimeU.S. Army

Christopher Gaul, former managing editor of the Catholic Review and reporter for The Sun and The Evening Sun and area television stations, died of lung cancer Thursday at his home in Essex. He was 72.

He joined the Catholic Review as a writer in 1995 and worked there until he retired in 2005. George P. Matysek Jr., the Review's assistant managing editor, remembered Mr. Gaul as a mentor to the junior writers at the paper, taking time to carefully edit their work.

"He really showed us what went into a good story," Mr. Matysek said, "He was very nurturing in how he dealt with younger writers."

Mr. Gaul had a tradition of holding the noon Angelus prayer in the office. The practice lapsed after he left, but Mr. Matysek said the editorial department held it again the day Mr. Gaul died.

Born in Wallasey, England, Mr. Gaul followed his mother to the United States after she married an American. Gaul was educated at Pennthorpe Prep School in Sussex, England, and the Merchant Marine College in London before continuing his studies at what was then St. Michael's College in Santa Fe, N.M..

He joined the Army, and after his discharge in 1959 went to work briefly for the Harford Democrat, a weekly newspaper in Aberdeen. Shortly after, Mr. Gaul joined The Sun and The Evening Sun.

At The Sunpapers and then WJZ, Mr. Gaul covered civil rights and the condition of African-Americans in Maryland. In an 1964 article, he described attempts to improve housing for black people on the Eastern Shore, and at the television station, he investigated claims that real estate firms exploited poor African-Americans in Baltimore.

A 20-part 1970 television series on the topic attracted a large libel suit — not the only one sparked by Mr. Gaul's probing reports — but a jury found in Mr. Gaul's favor five years after the stories aired.

Two years later, he reported for WJZ that Baltimore had its own Mafia, something the Department of Justice and the Baltimore Police Department had denied.

"And that's one of the things that really irritates me," Mr. Gaul told The Sun at the time. "They say the Mafia isn't here, and that just isn't true."

Mr. Gaul's wife of 26 years, Pam Gaul, said he was drawn to stories where he thought he could make a difference.

"He always used his position to further the cause of whoever he came into contact with," she said. "He really was a reporter from the heart."

In 1974, Mr. Gaul started working at the National Public Affairs Center for Television in Washington and covered the White House between 1976 and 1978.

In the 1980s, he worked as the on-air medical reporter for WBAL in Baltimore. An ad for the station showed Mr. Gaul holding a microphone as if midreport. "Christopher Gaul is good for what ails you," it told readers in block letters.

It was in that job that Mr. Gaul met his wife, who was then a Maryland Shock Trauma Center nurse.

"He was the only reporter I would talk to because he was kind, he could wait and because he cared," Mrs. Gaul said.

She added that they were friends before they were married. "I never knew a nicer human being, who tried his whole life to make everyone that he touched — to make their world better," Mrs. Gaul said.

Outside his work, Mr. Gaul trained Weimaraner show dogs. One of them, Jazz, became the No. 1 in its breed in the country. Mr. Gaul chronicled the dog's road to the top spot for the Baltimore Sun Magazine in 1994, a process that involved the wrenching decision to let him go on the tour circuit with a professional handler.

An injury nearly scuppered Jazz's chance to oust his rival, another Weimaraner called Phoebe Snow, but he managed a string of victories late in the year to claim the title.

"I like to think he knows, somehow, that I'm writing about him, but he's really waiting for me to finish so I can take him for his daily run in the park," Mr. Gaul wrote. "To him, that's special."

Mr. Gaul's faith occupied an important place in his life. He converted from the Church of England to Catholicism as a teenager, and came to see his work at the Catholic Review as a kind of ministry, Mr. Matysek said.

Before joining the Catholic Review, Mr. Gaul started working toward joining the Secular Order of Discalced Carmelites as a lay member. His work interrupted the process, but shortly before he died, Mr. Gaul received special permission to make his final promise to the order early.

A funeral Mass will be offered at 11 a.m. Monday at Our Lady of Mount Carmel, Essex

In addition to his wife, Mr. Gaul is survived by a sister, Joanna Weber of Guildford, England; sons Steven Gaul of Panama City, Fla., and Tim Gaul of Mount Pleasant, Mich.; daughters Robin Zimmerman of Sylvania, Ala., Jennifer Westerlund of Baltimore, Megan Ferguson of Towson and Gwyneth Gaul of Pittsburgh; and grandchildren.

iduncan@baltsun.com

An earlier version of this article did not include that Mr. Gaul had worked for both The Sun and The Evening Sun.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
Comments
Loading