John M. "Jack" Lemmon announced today that he would retire as managing editor of The Evening Sun at the end of the month.
Lemmon, 63, served in the post for 12 years.
Lemmon's announcement comes as The Sun and The Evening Sun begin to merge their news staffs.
In a memo to the staffs today, John S. Carroll, editor of both newspapers, said: "One of the least happy consequences of our decision to merge the morning and evening news staffs is the diminished role of the evening managing editor."
Although Lemmon had planned to work a while longer before retiring, he said, "The changes coming just made that impossible. . . . It seemed the handwriting was on the wall, so to speak."
He will be replaced on an interim basis by Assistant Managing Editor Ernest F. Imhoff, newspaper executives said. But once the staff merger is completed, all news operations will be overseen by Kathryn Christensen, managing editor of The Sun.
It was the third top-level personnel change in the newsroom this year. In February, publisher Michael J. Davies named Carroll, then editor of the Lexington (Ky.) Herald-Leader, to the newly created post of editor of both the morning and evening papers in Baltimore.
In June, Carroll hired Christensen to replace Sun Managing Editor James I. Houck, 49, who had resigned a month earlier.
The merger of the previously separate news staffs has already begun in the sports, features and business sections. Carroll said the process will be completed during 1992.
The appearance of Evening Sun bylines in the morning #i newspaper, and vice versa, will end 81 years of competition and friendly rivalry between The Sun and The Evening Sun, which was founded in 1910.
The merging of the two staffs results from a decision to expand local news coverage as well as a need to cut costs because of declining advertising revenues during the recession.
Carroll described Lemmon as "one of those editors who inspires not only respect, but trust and affection. He has run The Evening Sun with an unwavering devotion both to its readers and its staff."
Davies today called Lemmon "one of the top professionals in the business. He is respected not only in Maryland but across the country in newspaper circles. He has done much for The Evening Sun and will be missed."
As Imhoff prepared to take over Lemmon's responsibilities, he promised to continue Lemmon's policy to "always put the readers first."
Lemmon said his future plans are unclear. Teaching or consulting are possibilities but "I haven't explored all the options," he said.
During his tenure, The Evening Sun won a Pulitzer Prize and hundreds of other national and regional awards for excellence.
Before joining The Evening Sun, Lemmon was night managing editor of the Washington Post. He joined the Post in 1966 after two years on the journalism faculty at Ohio State University in Columbus.
Previously, he had worked for the Washington Star for nine years and was copy desk chief when he left for Ohio State. He began his career on newspapers in Illinois, then spent five years in the Navy during the Korean War, the last two teaching English at the Naval Academy.
Lemmon and his wife, Sue. live in Towson.