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Lasting Tribute page for RICHARD BERGENHEIM
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Richard Bergenheim, who died 20 July, 2008, aged 60, was a prominent figure within the Christian Science faith whose life of dedication to his beliefs culminated in editorship of the Christian Science Monitor newspaper.His three years at the helm saw wholesale changes to the daily publication but the period was most notable for the kidnap of freelance Monitor journalist Jill Carroll in Iraq in 2006.Mr Bergenheim put the paper's full weight behind the campaign for her release and met her at the airport upon her return to America. He then hired her as a full-time staffer to ensure she was financially compensated for her experience. The story was the biggest in the paper's history and Mr Bergenheim received much praise for the way he had handled it.Richard Bergenheim's background was not, however, in journalism, despite his father being in the publishing trade and founding the Herald American newspaper in their hometown of Boston.He did attend the University of Birmingham in England to take a masters degree, then taught English for four years. But in 1974 he became a member of the Church of Christ, Scientist - the religious group founded in 1879 by Mary Baker Eddy - and dedicated himself to teaching the benefits of the Christian Science approach to alternative healing.He was a member of the Church of Christ, Scientist's board of directors during the 1990s, working closely with the Monitor's editorship. Many eyebrows were raised when he was elected to take over from Pulitzer Prize-winning editor Paul Van Slambrouck in 2005 because of his lack of a journalistic pedigree, but he soon put any doubts to rest.He quickly set about modernising the Monitor (which he described as "a light for the world" in his inaugural editorial), putting new focus on the paper's online activities that resulted in visitor figures of up to 2 million a month. But he also issued an edict that the paper should carry at least one story about people changing the world for the better per day, harking back to the traditions of positivity founded by Mary Baker Eddy.He had recently stepped down as editor to take on a new job as president of The First Church of Christ, Scientist in Boston, the faith's central hub. He died in Kansas City during a tour of the country's churches and was survived by his wife Phebe, his parents and several siblings.The Church's board of directors released a statement saying: "There aren't words to express our gratitude for all that Richard has given over the years to his church. Richard has been a friend and mentor to many of us and we will miss him greatly."His Christian Science Monitor colleague David Cook paid tribute to him in the paper's pages, saying: "Part of Richard's charm was a wry, impish sense of humour about many things, including his own foibles and career path. Alluding to the extensive travel requirements of his new job, he ended an e-mail last week, 'yours with suitcase in hand'."According to Cook, Mr Bergenheim had told students during his recent tour: "Think of the world as filled with friends. We don't let our friends be in trouble without trying to figure out how to help them. We care. And part of what the Monitor exists to do is increase the caring capacity of our hearts."
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Viewed by: 2006 visitors. Uploaded: 10 years ago
Published in: Online.
Published from: July 23, 2008.
Region: National
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