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James ‘Jim’ Stear, ex-Newsday editor, environmentalist, dies

James ''Jim'' Stear retired from Newsday in 2008.

James ''Jim'' Stear retired from Newsday in 2008. Credit: Stear family

Former Newsday journalist Jim Stear, who after retiring advocated for the environment, died Nov. 17 at home of natural causes.

The Andover, Vermont, resident was 73. James Robert Stear was born Aug. 11, 1944, in Rochester, and graduated from Gates-Chili High School in 1962. He received a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from upstate Hamilton College in 1966 and a master’s from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1967.

Stear was a lifelong journalist who spent hours as a child writing in his basement, revising and printing a newsletter for a youth organization to which he belonged, said his brother, Ed Stear, of Laguna Woods, California.

“From the time Jim was a kid, he was always making up newspapers,” Ed Stear said.

Jim Stear followed his early passion and became editor-in-chief of his high school newspaper. His talents were recognized when, in between his junior and senior years of high school, he was invited to attend a summer institute for journalism at Northwestern University.

He went on to work for the Democrat & Chronicle in Rochester, and later joined Newsday as an assistant editor in 1973.

“Jim was a meticulous editor and a meticulous person,” said former Newsday editor Howard Schneider, dean of the Stony Brook University School of Journalism and a longtime friend and colleague of Stear. “As an editor, he paid attention to details, made no assumptions, and didn’t hesitate to ask questions on behalf of the reader, even to the occasional consternation of reporters.”

Outside work, Stear advocated for issues he cared about, particularly after his retirement from journalism and Newsday in 2008.

“Jim was passionate about the environment,” Ed Stear said. “He belonged to the Vermont Land Trust. Jim spent many, many hours writing or calling various elected officials and civil servants about the causes he believed in and the injustices he saw.”

At Jim Stear’s request, the family held no services, and his ashes were spread at his home in Vermont.

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