Friday, July 19, 2002

Former society editor, 87, dies


Eleanor Adams had style, humor

By Rebecca Billman, rbillman@enquirer.com
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Eleanor Adams was a white-gloved lady who covered white-gloved ladies.

        As society editor for The Cincinnati Enquirer, she had easy rapport with the people on whom she reported.

        She knew the difference between a fish fork and a meat fork — and precisely when to turn her attention from one gentleman at the table to another.

        But stuffy she wasn't. To the contrary, she loved to laugh and had a devilish sense of humor.

        “People used to come in to see her, and she had this Olympic scoring system for the way they'd dress,” said Enquirer reporter Jim Knippenberg, who worked with Mrs. Adams. “She'd hold the numbers up behind their backs. She was just great fun. After work, we'd have a martini or beer before going home — (and) she'd tell you all these wonderful stories about who did what at a party.”

        But she was also a professional who was serious about her work. Mrs. Adams was inducted into the journalism hall of fame of the Cincinnati chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in 1996.

        Graydon DeCamp wrote in his 1991 history of the newspaper, The Grand Old Lady of Vine Street, that Mrs. Adams “applied modern standards of objectivity and fairness to the society columns and got the paper out of the awkward business of dictating who was who in society.”

        Mrs. Adams, 87, died in her sleep Thursday morning.

        Colleagues said she treated everyone alike — from the doorman at the Highland Towers in Mount Adams, where she lived for 36 years, to the publisher of the newspaper.

        Former Enquirer publisher William J. Keating said: “Eleanor was a wonderful lady — and I use the word "lady' because she was a lady. I think she was successful because she was always very nice. And at the same time, she was very persistent — so she always got to the heart of the story.”

        Born in Columbus in 1914, Mrs. Adams graduated from Shortridge High School in Indianapolis. She received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Indiana University in 1936 and a master's degree in journalism from the University of Missouri in 1941.

        Before joining the staff of the Enquirer in 1959, she was society editor for the Indianapolis Times and the Cincinnati Times-Star.

        She became the Enquirer's society editor after Jane Finneran Farrell retired in 1969.

        Mrs. Adams held that position until her own retirement, in 1980. She also served as editor of The Blue Book of Cincinnati, the city's social register.

        She was married and divorced twice — to Henry Felix Ostrom in 1937 and Francis Adams in 1956. She had a daughter, Cynthia Anne Ostrom, who died in 1998.

        Mrs. Adams was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, Women in Communications Inc., Ohio Newspaper Women's Association, Indiana Woman's Press Club, the National Society of Arts and Letters, Ohio Press Women, Cincinnati Historical Society, Contemporary Arts Center, Lecture Club of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Zoo Safari Club, the East African Wild Life Society, College Club of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Tennis C

        Adams was a member of Kappa Alpha Theta sorority, Women in Communications Inc., Ohio Newspaper Women's Association, Indiana Woman's Press Club, the National Society of Arts and Letters, Ohio Press Women, Cincinnati Historical Society, Contemporary Arts Center, Lecture Club of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Zoo Safari Club, the East African Wild Life Society, College Club of Cincinnati, Cincinnati Tennis Club and Cincinnati Town Club.

        Survivors include: two grandsons, Jeffrey Pohlmann of San Diego and Stephen Pohlmann of Ridgefield, Conn.; and three great-grandchildren.

        Services are pending.

       



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