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Reuters staff and alumni mourn Keith Leighty

Nearly 60 colleagues of Keith Leighty, former editor-in-charge of Reuters Americas financial editing desk, gathered at Thomson Reuters headquarters in New York on Thursday to mourn him and pay their respects to his family.

Leighty died on 17 November at the age of 61 after a two-year battle with brain cancer.

During the hour-long remembrance, the gathering of mostly Reuters editorial staff and former Reuters staff heard Top News editor Frank McGurty describe Leighty as “great fun, a fine colleague, a smart newsman with demanding standards, puckish charm, disarming wit and leadership that inspired loyalty. He was the consummate Midwesterner, smart with common sense.”

Leighty, who joined Reuters in Chicago in 1986 before moving to New York, was promoted to editor of the financial filing desk in 1993 and subsequently oversaw a merged editing desk with sub-editors for the Reuters Business Report. He then joined The New York Times in 1999 and became the newspaper’s business section night editor in 2008. Leighty continued to work at the Times after his diagnosis until a few months ago.

His deputy at the Times, Pradnaya “P.J.” Joshi, attended the memorial and said Leighty was “grace under pressure” during the 2008 financial crisis amid the “constant barrage of news”. She said Leighty was multi-dimensional, having umpired Little League baseball and mentored people at New York University where he had served as an adjunct professor.

Times colleague and ex-Reuters editor Jeff Cane described Leighty as looking like an old-fashioned newsman with a Fedora hat and a bottle of rye. “That was a caricature, but Keith had the ideals of a great journalist. He was a straight shooter... He gave 100 per cent to all stories, whether it was on the front page or a smaller item. He treated people with dignity and respect.”

The memorial was also attended by Leighty’s wife Sue and their sons Keith Jr and Joseph, along with a few close family friends. Several colleagues wore bow ties to honour Leighty, who countered casual dress down days by dressing up and wearing bow ties. 

A bottle of Maker’s Mark, one of Leighty’s favoured whiskies, was placed near a memorial book for his sons.

Joseph and Keith Leighty Jr then headed to the nearby Times Square pub O'Brien’s with their father’s close friends to join some other New York Times colleagues.


PHOTO: In O’Brien’s Irish pub on Times Square, from left: Keith Leighty’s sons Keith Leighty Jr and Joseph Leighty, and bow tie wearers Jonathan Oatis, Kevin McKenna, Walter Bagley and Dean Murphy. ■