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Kenneth R. Iglehart, newspaperman and magazine editor who had a taste for the offbeat and arcane, dies

Kenneth R. Iglehart was a special editions editor for Baltimore Magazine.
Kenneth R. Iglehart was a special editions editor for Baltimore Magazine.

Kenneth R. Iglehart, a veteran newspaperman and Baltimore Magazine’s special editions editor who had a taste for the arcane which he illuminated with a subtle sense of humor, ended his life Oct. 27 at his Mount Washington home. He was 71.

Mr. Iglehart had been in declining health since the death last year of his wife of 49 years, the former Norma Murray, said his daughter, Leigh Iglehart, of Brooklyn, New York.

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“I’ve known Ken for 25 years and kind of grew up with him,” said Max Weiss, a Baltimore Magazine editor. ”I loved Ken and there really never was a time that he wasn’t in my life. He was Peter Fonda from ‘Easy Rider’ with his aviator glasses, leather jacket and permanent tan. He was a true cool guy. I mean, after all, how many editors ride a motorcycle? I know it’s a cliché, but they don’t make them like Ken anymore.”

“Ken was Indiana Jones meets Clint Eastwood in ‘Easy Rider.’ He rode a Harley, he drove a Jeep, he dropped out of Hopkins to run a motorcycle repair business,” wrote Jane Marion, Baltimore Magazine’s food and dining editor, colleague and a longtime friend of Mr. Iglehart’s, in an email.

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“At work, he had yeoman-like habits. He said no to nothing. Edited and proofed everyone’s copy. He wrote about things like top dentists and top doctors and made the copy sing,” Ms. Marion wrote. “One time he did a sidebar on how dentists try to talk to you while you’re in the chair and how they decipher what their patients were saying. Pure Ken.”

Kenneth Robert Iglehart, son of Robert Holt Iglehart, an educator, and Jane Whitcomb, a homemaker, was born in Dallas. Because of the nature of his father’s career in the Peace Corps, State Department and as a preparatory school administrator, had a peripatetic upbringing having lived in Africa, Europe and New England, where he graduated from high school.

While a student at the Johns Hopkins University, he worked as a motorcycle mechanic at Pete’s Cycle in Baltimore County from 1969 to 1970, and from 1972 to 1973 was a part and services manager for a Honda dealership in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He then went to work the next year as a newspaper reporter for several weekly publications in southern New Hampshire.

In 1977, Mr. Iglehart left New England and moved to Naples, Florida, where he worked as a newspaper reporter, and then settled in 1980 Baltimore where he rose to become city editor of The News American after the death in 1985 of Louis “Lou” Linley.

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The News American ceased publication in 1986 and the following year, Mr. Iglehart became head of media relations at the Johns Hopkins University, a position he held for a year. He was a newspaper editor in Baltimore County from 1988 to 1989 when he was named executive editor of the then-Gannett-owned Journal Newspapers, a chain of Washington suburban newspapers.

“I worked with Ken in the late 1980s at the Fairfax Journal, my first newspaper job,” wrote Norm Gomlak, who later became The Baltimore Sun’s Annapolis bureau chief, in an email.

“He showed up sun-tanned in his Khakis, blue Oxford shirt and boat shoes,” said Mr. Gomlak, who is now deputy metro editor of the Houston Chronicle. “He looked like he just stepped off a California beach, and I learned later that he went out on the water a lot when he was working in Naples. Everyone liked him.

“I last spoke with him about a decade ago and I recalled how he drove an old Jeep to work in Northern Virginia. He said he still had it and that it had 300,000 miles on it!”

Mr. Igelhart joined Baltimore Magazine as managing editor in 1995, and later was named special editions editor, a position he still held at his death.

A confirmed Luddite who was continually at war with technology, Mr. Iglehart preferred the convenience and familiarity of a flip phone and liked fax machines.

“He cut all copy by hand and gave it to the art department. It always fit to the word,” Ms. Marion said.

“He was an analog,” his daughter said.

Kenneth R. Iglehart was a former executive editor of the then-Gannett-owned Journal Newspapers, a chain of Washington suburban newspapers.
Kenneth R. Iglehart was a former executive editor of the then-Gannett-owned Journal Newspapers, a chain of Washington suburban newspapers.

Mr. Iglehart had a keen, effervescent, sarcastic and sardonic sense of humor, which he honed with a droll wit. He was an editor who eagerly looked for the quirk in quirkiness– it was natural that the magazine’s Best Of Baltimore issues fell under his purview.

“His Best of Baltimore’s on the best plumbers or HVAC were informative and iconic,” Ms. Marion said. “Somehow the content that no one wanted to create such as the best person to get animal stains out of a rug or whatever became must-read copy in his hands. His writing sparkled, it was the filigree, and it was hilarious.”

“He did all of the thankless things that needed to be done and no one else wanted to do and he never complained,” Ms. Weiss said. “He wrote with passion and beauty. That was his trademark. He was a stellar reporter.”

“He was an extraordinarily funny person who brought levity to serious moments. He was a man’s man and an old school guy whose voice had a gentle quality,” Ms. Weiss continued.

Grace Hebron is an editorial assistant at the magazine.

“There are so many things that I adored and will miss about Ken, especially his seamless sense of humor. His jokes not only made me laugh, they stuck with me and took me half a day (and sometimes Googling) to fully comprehend,” Ms. Hebron wrote in an email.

“I’ll miss how in the middle of a chat about work, Ken could paint a picture of his grandfather’s battles during World War I, or of the waiters who were on the Titanic,” she wrote. “And I’ll miss Ken’s gentler knowing presence. He never ever gave me pointers on my work, even when I asked. Ken put his full trust in me from the beginning and gave me the freedom to chart my own course.”

She added: “Most importantly, all throughout, he never missed a chance to let me know how much he valued and appreciated me (and everyone who worked with him, regardless of how often or the size of the job.) Like all guys who ride motorcycles, Ken was tough, and never super keen on my emphatic shows of thanks, but he had such a tender heart.”

Mr. Iglehart and his wife, who he married 1970, refurbished a 1926 fixer-upper in the historic district of Mount Washington that they filled with a variety of antiques, including Zulu spears and Russian samovars.

“He liked walking into a room and not knowing what year it was,” Ms. Iglehart said. “He was a romantic who loved things that had character and were haunted.”

Mr. Iglehart’s heart was never far from the water, and in 1980 built the Nightshift, a 29-foot ketch in his backyard, which he modeled after a French sailing vessel and outfitted with red velvet drapes and a wood stove.

Other pastimes in addition to solo sailing included trap shooting, riflery, gardening, antique collecting and “hanging out on the porch or by the fire listening to tunes and sippin’ bad bourbon,” he wrote in a biographical clip that he filed in his “Oh [expletive] I’m dead drawer,” his daughter said.

Services are private.

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In addition to his daughter, Mr. Iglehart is survived by his son, Alexander Iglehart of Chapel Hill, North Carolina; and three brothers, Thomas Iglehart of Guilford, Connecticut, Stephen Iglehart of Charlotte, North Carolina, and John Iglehart of Switzerland.

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