Arthur J. Janushek, 82, columnist and sports editor at News American

January 27, 1998|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,SUN STAFF

Arthur Joseph Janushek, retired News American assistant sports editor whose column "As Others See Us" entertained and informed Baltimore sports fans for more than 20 years, died Wednesday of renal failure at Sunrise Assisted Living in Annapolis. He was 82 and formerly lived in Glen Burnie.

Known as "Janney" throughout his 45-year career with the now-defunct Hearst newspaper, he earned a reputation as a tough, resourceful, fast-moving, no-nonsense newspaperman who remained calm no matter what was happening in the city room.

"He was an unflappable genius who never lost his cool," said Steve Gavin, a former News American editor who is now an editor with the Camden (N.J.) Courier-Post.

"There he'd be, humped over his desk with smoke slowly rising from a cigar he had carefully placed on a corner of the desk, humming away over the noise of the wire machines and busily tearing and ripping up the whole paper," Mr. Gavin said.

"There could have been a 17-player trade, a close horse race at Pimlico, the roof falling in and a five-alarm fire next door and nothing would disturb him. He'd sit there editing, humming and laying out pages."

William Gildea, a sports-feature writer with the Washington Post and author of "When the Colts Belonged to Baltimore," recalled watching Mr. Janushek in action when he interned at the paper during college.

"Speed was his thing without a lot of wasted motion. He'd edit copy, write headlines and have it down the tube to the composing room in a flash," he said.

John Steadman, former News American sports editor and now a Sun sports columnist, recalls advice that Mr. Janushek offered him when he was a young reporter in 1945.

"He said, 'Don't write with a lot of complex sentences because the readers don't have time to figure it out. It's a news story or a feature, not a crossword puzzle.' "

Born and raised in Northeast Baltimore, Mr. Janushek attended McDonogh School, where he played football and softball and edited the school's newspaper and yearbook.

He began his newspaper career while at McDonogh, working as a correspondent or "stringer" gathering school news for the old Union-Times in Towson and the Reisterstown Herald.

After the death of his father, he was forced to leave school to help support his family. In recognition of his accomplishments as a journalist, McDonogh awarded him his high school diploma in 1954.

In 1934, he began working full time in the sports department of the News-Post, which became the News American in 1964.

In the early years, he wrote under the byline of Art Janney. In later work, he used his real name.

During the late Depression and World War II, in addition to his newspaper work, he worked part time as a locomotive fireman and streetcar motorman.

"His career as a Baltimore Transit Co. motorman came to end abruptly one day when he couldn't stop his car and it plowed into a truck loaded with cabbages," his daughter, Catherine J. Smith of Leonardtown, said, laughing.

In 1951, he was promoted to the newspaper's assistant sports editor.

Through the years he wrote such columns as "On the Links," "Fan Stand," and "Jan's Jots," but was perhaps best known for his "As Others See Us," a compilation of excerpts from newspapers around the country that carried articles relating to the Colts and later the Orioles.

The column began in 1958, when the Colts were world football champions, and was supposed to run for 10 days. Instead, it ran for the next 21 years until he retired.

A man of medium build who liked to have his collar open and tie dropped to half-staff in the best "Front Page" tradition, he was known for his affection for rookie reporters.

In a reassuring tone, he convinced them that great beauty could be found in writing that was simple, quick, crisp and to the point.

He made it a practice never to discuss politics or religion and was known for his charity toward the newspaper's stringers, whom he took under his wing.

xTC "Art Janney was as much a fixture in Baltimore newspaper folklore as anybody," wrote News American sportswriter Butch Ward, at Mr. Janushek's retirement in 1979.

He was married in 1936 to the former Evelyn Freyman, who died in 1986.

Services will be held at 10 a.m. today at St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church, 308 Oak Manor Drive, Glen Burnie.

In addition to his daughter, he is survived by a sister, Marietta Dorr of Crownsville; and a grandson, Arthur N. Smith of Plymouth, Minn.

Pub Date: 1/27/98

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