Jane Earle, a journalist, writer, and academic, died April 9 at her Denver home. She was 88.
Born on March 23, 1935, in Kentucky, Earle began her career in journalism in Ohio and also worked at The Daily Oklahoman and the Oklahoma City Journal before joining the staff of The Denver Post in 1970 as a feature writer. At the Post, Earle switched beats to cover federal courts and federal agencies and during her seven year tenure she also covered state government, the legislature and minority political affairs. Among Earle’s stories at the Post were pieces on Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972; the Chicano Movement and the Wounded Knee occupation in 1973.
“A journalist most of her life, she was a writer first and foremost with a deep appreciation for
the role of the press in defending American democracy,” said her daughter, Jennifer Wollerman. “Her fearlessness, thirst for information, passion for history and talent for finding the heart of the story drove her from very humble beginnings to accomplish great things as a storyteller.”
Earle left The Denver Post and became editor, and later publisher, of Denver Magazine, a journal of politics and arts during the late 1970s and early 1980s. After leaving the magazine, she was a freelance editorial consultant and writer for The Colorado School of Mines and several corporate clients. She then joined KMGH Channel 7 as editorial director, a position she held for five years. During that time, she taught journalism at Metropolitan State College (now MSUD). While teaching, Earle completed an undergraduate degree, graduating Magna Cum Laude with a double major in History and Journalism.
“She was a great journalist, once she got her teeth into something she never let go,” said Richard Maes, a night police reporter at the Rocky Mountain News from 1968 to 1976.
Maes and Earle met in journalistic circles, including as patrons of the Denver Press Club, and the two developed a long friendship.
“She was a good friend,” Maes said. “We ran in the same circles with the same type of people — reporters.”
Maes recalled a story that Earle wrote for the Post about the Internal Revenue Service, and that she was audited three years in a row after the story published.
“She really had a spine of steel,” he said.
Earle earned a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and was hired the following year by Cornell University where she created an award-winning curriculum in journalism ethics. During the summer of 1992, Earle was deputy media campaign manager for former Colorado Governor Richard Lamm’s senate campaign: Coloradans for Lamm.
In the 1990s, after the dissolution of the USSR, Earle went to Russia and worked as managing editor for a Russian owned, English-language newspaper — The Moscow Tribune. During her year in Moscow, Earle was a guest lecturer at Moscow State University.
Returning to Denver, Earle worked as manager of community relations for Denver Water, a post she held for a decade. At Denver Water, Earle hired Trina McGuire-Collier and the two became longtime colleagues and friends.
“She modernized Denver Water, their approach to public engagement and public involvement,” McGuire-Collier said.
McGuire-Collier described Earle as a “cosmopolitan, worldly and well-traveled woman, she was brilliant and at the same time down to earth. She was fascinating and a wonderful story teller; she was strong and she had a heart of gold.”
Over the course of her long journalism career, Earle’s work appeared in Ms. Magazine, The New York Times, Frontier Magazine, Colorado Woman, Colorado Business, Summerscapes and in Colorado School of Mines publications. Her awards included: Women in Communications, Woman of Achievement Award; Presidential Scholars’ Outstanding Educator Award, Cornell University; Colorado Broadcast Journalist’s Starward for Commentary (KMGH); Service to State of Colorado Chicano Education Project Service Award; and Western Magazine Association’s Most Improved Publication in the West (Denver Magazine).
Retiring from Denver Water, Earle continued to write, research a Denver Water history project and develop children’s stories. She taught at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Denver, including a class on “The Great American Newspaper – Its Rise and Fall.”
She is survived by her daughter, Jennifer Wollerman, New York; two sons, Fred and Paul Wollerman; both of Denver; three grandsons and a great-granddaughter.
Services will be held at 11 a.m. June 6 at Saint John’s Cathedral, 1350 N. Washington St., Denver. A scholarship fund in Earle’s name is being formulated, details will be released at a later date.
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