Obituaries

Dan Turner, LA Times editorial writer was 49

Dan Turner was a member of the Los Angeles Times editorial board who wrote on a wide range of topics. He died Saturday at home in Los Angeles of pancreatic cancer that was diagnosed about two years ago. He had continued to write editorials and blog items for the Times' opinion section until taking a leave of absence only about a week ago. Turner had previously been managing editor of the Los Angeles Business Journal and a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle and Peninsula Times Tribune in Palo Alto. He joined the LA Times in 2000 as a copy editor in what was then the San Fernando Valley edition. From the LAT obituary:

This year alone, Turner editorialized on such topics as state prisons, Lance Armstrong's legacy, the need to save Cameroon's elephants from poachers and, on repeated occasions, gun control....


He also wrote about energy, local transportation, California prisons, the death penalty, climate change, Africa and the United Nations.

Jim Newton, who oversaw the editorial pages from 2007 to 2010, called Turner "a sharp, stylish writer with a really pungent pen."

"In recent years one hallmark in terms of influence has been our coverage of global warming and climate change," Newton said, "and that is a testament to Dan."

Opinion editor Nick Goldberg announced Turner's passing in a Saturday afternoon email to the staff. Excerpt:

It's overwhelmingly sad and terribly unfair. Dan was about to reach his 50th birthday next month. He was a lovely colleague, a mild, kind, smart voice in our editorial board meetings. Yet in his writing, he was anything but mild -- rather, he was powerful, biting, funny and opinionated. He could pound out an editorial in a couple of hours -- or a blogpost in a matter of minutes -- that hit all the right notes, made all the right points, and did it in a way that was so stylish and word perfect that it was virtually uneditable. What's more, he wrote so painlessly and efficiently that he always had a little time left over to play whatever that computer word game was that he was so addicted to and to get out of the office and be scootering home at a shockingly reasonable hour. Dan blogged and editorialized on an extremely broad range of subjects, including energy, local transportation, California prisons, the death penalty, climate change, Africa and the United Nations. No matter what the subject -- and no matter how nerdy -- he approached it with the same extraordinary voice and sense of humor.

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About a week before he died, Dan finally announced that he needed to take a leave of absence, and wrote the following to his colleagues.

"Whatever happens now, I want you to know that working with such a smart, thoughtful, funny, expert group has enriched my life for years, which is a large part of what makes it so difficult to make a clean break from the L.A. Times. Our work has kept me tethered to the world during some very rough times. I'm not going to blather on about cancer and death with you because I've done more than enough of that already and I could use a break, but it's a terrible experience made more bearable by the likes of you."


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