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Betty Ommerman, former Newsday reporter and editor, dies at 92

Betty Ommerman spent 50 years at Newsday, working

Betty Ommerman spent 50 years at Newsday, working stints as an editor and as a reporter.   Credit: Newsday File

There were photos hanging all around Betty Ommerman’s Queens apartment.

A former Newsday fashion editor and an avid traveler who worked at the publication for 50 years, Ommerman kept her home filled with mementos and memories, detailing a life that was as interesting as the stories she wrote.

Ommerman died Oct. 12 at NYC Health + Hospitals/Bellevue in Manhattan after a series of health issues, said her social worker, Joseph Francois. She was 92.

"She was feisty," said Francois, 54, of Queens Village. "She was very proud of working at Newsday. She talked about it as a family."

Born Jan. 15, 1928, in Manhattan, Ommerman graduated from Hunter College before working as a wire editor for the Daily Messenger in upstate Canandaigua and a feature reporter at the Dearborn Guide in Dearborn, Michigan.

After returning to New York and moving to Forest Hills, where she spent the majority of her life, Ommerman joined Newsday in April 1955 as a general women’s features writer. She served as assistant women’s editor and was named fashion editor in January 1968. For her fashion writing, Ommerman won several awards, including the Men’s Fashion Association Award three times.

Ommerman's career spanned the newspaper's evolution over the decades, said former Newsday editor Howard Schneider, now the executive director of the Center for News Literacy at Stony Brook University.

"For much of her career, she wrote about the accomplishments of ordinary Long Islanders who won awards as veterans, teachers, students, community leaders, grandparents and volunteers fighting cancer, Long Island's real heroes," Schneider said.

Ommerman at other times contributed travel and lifestyle features, including a 1994 story on then-middle schooler Evan Roberts, who went on to become a radio personality for WFAN. She also wrote for Newsday's "Life Over 60."

She spent time working on Long Island's regional coverage, writing the "Around Town" column for Nassau County and the town of Babylon in the early '90s. She retired in January 2005.

A frequent traveler, Ommerman was always happy to reminisce about a trip, Francois said, particularly one to Israel and another spent on a cruise where she ate at the captain’s table.

She was a New Yorker through and through, with a personality Francois described as "bubbly."

"She kept me in touch with what it was like to be a New Yorker in the '70s," Francois added. "It brought me back."

Plans for Ommerman’s burial are still being made, said her supervising guardian, Franklin Robb.

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