A sad week.
Richard W. Johnston, 66, who had been executive editor of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED when he retired in 1970, died of cancer Aug. 4 in Honolulu, where he had lived for the last decade. After a distinguished career as a war correspondent for United Press in the Pacific during World War II, Dick joined LIFE, where he met Sidney L. James, later our first managing editor. Dick followed Sid to the "new sports magazine" in 1953, a year before the first issue of SI appeared. For many years Dick was primarily responsible for supervising the magazine's editorial tone and quality, for locating and hiring writers and editors and for building up our inventory of free-lance articles.
Beyond such practical contributions to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S editorial personality, Dick lent a flair, a flourish, an almost hedonistic approach to the always demanding and sometimes hectic job of putting a magazine together each week. A tall, impressive-looking man with a riverboat-gambler's mustache (in the days before facial hair was in), Dick liked life to be fun—and around him it usually was. At the same time he was intensely serious about the work itself, and he never relaxed his standards of what he felt good journalism should be. He was a professional of the highest caliber, and he had a significant influence on SPORTS ILLUSTRATED'S development.
Then, on Aug. 5, M.R. Werner died in New York at the age of 84. Morrie had been a writer and a journalist for more than 60 years, the last 20 as an associate editor of SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, still coming into the office every day until just a few months before his death. Werner was the author of 16 books, among them biographies of P.T. Barnum, Brigham Young and William Jennings Bryan and a history of Tammany Hall. He had been a contributor to The New Yorker and a correspondent of the Paris Herald Tribune and England's Yorkshire Post. Most of his work for SPORTS ILLUSTRATED was related to our Scorecard section, although he occasionally wrote editorials and articles on travel and horse racing, his favorite sport.
August 16, 1981
Morrie will be vividly remembered for his colorful personality, his vigorous conversation, his outspoken opinions, his marvelous anecdotes, his extraordinary recall of the astonishing number of well-known people he had met during his long life. His monologues were impeccably grammatical, although spiced with lively and sometimes outrageous fulminations. Morrie was a delightful, unforgettable man.