Taani Pande, Newsday copy editor, dies at 39

An undated photo shows Newsday copy editor Taani

An undated photo shows Newsday copy editor Taani Pande, who died peacefully after a fight with cancer. (Credit: Handout)

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As a copy editor who was part of the last line of defense against errors in these pages, Taani Pande did much of her best work unsung, at night with tight deadlines always looming.

"Readers don't notice the things you catch, but they rightly notice the things you miss," said Doug Dutton, associate managing editor at Newsday, who oversaw Pande's work. "Taani was terrific at keeping errors out of the paper. And she had a great wit -- she loved topping off a story with a headline that could make you smile."

Pande, 39, a Newsday copy editor since September 2011, died Friday at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan. The cause was squamous cell carcinoma, said her brother, Rishabh Pande of Singapore.

"Taani was a smart, respected editor who left her mark on Newsday, as a strong journalist and as a caring colleague," said Newsday Editor Debbie Henley.

Pande spoke English and Hindi fluently, and also knew Bangla and Punjabi.

But she took pleasure in words from all those languages, said her mother, Mrinalini Pande of New Delhi.

"She loved finding words, putting a spin on it, using puns to express herself," Mrinalini Pande said of her daughter.

Taani Pande's talents were often on display in Newsday headlines.

"Paper maps are shown the door in GPS era" was among the many headlines that drew praise from her colleagues.

Her sharp humor and play on words were both on display in an award-winning headline she wrote during her time at The Journal News in White Plains.

"DA: Hot date is a cold cheat" took third place at the 2009-2010 New York State Associated Press Association awards in the Brightest Headline category for newspapers with 50,000 to 125,000 circulation.

Pande was born in New Delhi, India, on May 9, 1974. She earned English and journalism degrees and began her journalism career in India as an intern at the New Delhi bureau of India Abroad, a publication aimed at Indian expatriates in North America.

A promotion brought Pande to New York City in 2000. After stints at the Poughkeepsie Journal and The Journal News, she came to Newsday, moving to Holbrook.

In addition to her mother and brother, Pande is survived by her father, Lalit Kumar Pande of New Delhi; sister-in-law, Swetha Pande of Singapore; and two nephews, Dhruva and Raghav.

Her cremation was held Aug. 19, 2013 at St. Michael's Cemetery and Crematory, 72-02 Astoria Blvd., East Elmhurst, Queens. It was attended by family and friends. A private memorial was held in Holbrook.

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