Joseph Cyrille Koenenn spent 26 years working at Newsday in a field that he loved — arts and entertainment.
From theater to opera to ballet, Koenenn absorbed it all, both as an editor of the section and later in his career as a columnist for New York Newsday. Koenenn died Wednesday of complications from a late December stroke. He was 88.
Koenenn grew up in Gulfport, Mississippi, graduated from Gulfport High School, then went on to study journalism at the University of Missouri, graduated with a bachelor of arts degree and served in the Navy.
After gaining newspaper experience at The Commercial Appeal in Memphis and the Miami Beach Daily Sun in Florida, Koenenn made his way north, where he started his career at Newsday in 1969.
He began as a staff writer and eventually advanced to arts and leisure editor. He retired in 1995 and relocated to Mississippi in 2014.
“Joe was a kind, funny, Southern gentleman,” said close friend Renée Kaplan, 75, of Huntersville, North Carolina, who worked for him as a listings editor at Newsday. “He was an exacting editor, who was very conscientious. His word was his bond and he expected that from other people.”
Former Newsday music critic Peter Goodman, 72, of Syosset, got his start writing for Koenenn. “I found him encouraging,” Goodman said. “I learned on the job and Joe was very patient. He really helped me develop.”
In his final years at Newsday, Koenenn stepped down as arts and leisure editor and began a popular column, “Broadway Joe,” focusing on the Manhattan theater community.
“His column was more than Broadway gossip,” Kaplan said. “He really had insight into the theater world as well as relationships with producers, directors and actors.”
Koenenn traveled all over the globe, from Paris to Taiwan to Vietnam to Japan and across the United States. He collected Japanese art, read extensively about French history and loved dining in restaurants, frequenting Steve’s Pier One and Twin Harbors in Bayville as well as The White Cap and Half Shell Oyster House in Gulfport. An avid sailor, Koenenn loved the water, whether the Long Island Sound in Bayville or the Mississippi Sound in Gulfport.
The youngest of two siblings, Hazel K. McCreery and Linus Alfred Koenenn, who predeceased him, Joseph Koenenn was divorced with no children. He was survived by nieces and nephews Anne Koenenn Meek, Alfred R. Koenenn Sr. , Margaret Koenenn Papaleo and Emily Koenenn Henriksen, and several grandnieces and grandnephews.
Visitation will be held Tuesday from 10 to 11 a.m. at St. James Catholic Church in Gulfport, followed by a funeral Mass at 11 a.m. and interment at St. Joseph Cemetery at Rotten Bayou in Diamondhead, Mississippi.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Koenenn’s memory can be sent to St. James Church, St. Joseph Cemetery or St. Thomas Catholic Church.