Dick Lemon of Bedford, who had a distinguished magazine writing career that included stints at The New Yorker, Newsweek, The Saturday Evening Post, the New York Daily News, a decade at People Magazine and six years at Entertainment Weekly, died on Friday, June 29 at the age of 81.
He also had a local political career and history of involvement in town affairs and organizations that spanned 37 years, having served two terms on the town board, from 1970-1977, on the Blue Mountain Housing Corporation board since 2002, and the town's ethics board since 1985.
Lemon is survived by his wife, Molly; two sons, Ben and his wife, Fionn, of Los Angeles, CA, and Ted and his wife, Heidi, of Sebastopol, CA.; and five grandchildren. A memorial service will be held at a later date, according to an obituary posted in Monday's New York Times.
Lemon also served on the board of directors for the and was instrumental in organizing the Town of Bedford Tri-centennial Celebration in 1980, according to town officials, and penned the script for the pageant that was presented during that event celebration on the Bedford Village Green.
Bedford Supervisor Lee Roberts remembered him as a true gentleman.
"He was erudite and generous and gave unstintingly of his time and talent to Bedford," she said. "He was active in many other community affairs including Bedford’s Tri-Centennial celebration and the Bedford Coalition. We are deeply saddened to learn of his death. Our hearts go out to his wife Molly and his family."
According to a biography Lemon himself wrote and posted to Owl 52 Press, a website he established to sell his written works, he was a Providence, RI, native, graduated from Yale University in 1952 and married Molly Robbins, a student at Sarah Lawrence College, three days later.
He interviewed notable subjects throughout his career, including Jackie Kennedy, The Beatles, Billy Wilder, Jack Lemmon, Duke Ellington, Artie Shaw and Benny Goodman—but it was a piece he edited for People in 1987 on 24 hours in the AIDS crisis in America that gave him the "greatest pride," he noted.
He earned the respect of industry professionals including EW's former managing editor, James Seymore.
"He arrived with his trademark generous grin and irresistible stash of jelly beans," Seymore commented at the time of Lemon's retirement from EW in 1996 at the age of 65.
"Well before the end of his foundation-laying three years editing the publication's feature stories, Dick's uncanny style had so permeated EW that one senior writer refers to the process of writing clever headlines and captions as ''Lemonizing," he said.
Lemon turned his eight-year experience as the first Democrat elected to the Town Board in Bedford since 1899 (noted in Lemon's bio) into an award-winning piece he called, "Confessions of a Small-Time Politician," according to a letter written by People's publisher in 1984, S. Christopher Meigher III.
His presence will be missed by many who knew him, said current town councilmen, Chris Burdick and David Gabrielson.
"Dick's involvement in the community ran continuously for 37 years. In addition to his tremendous service for the Town, he also worked to elect people he felt would help the Town," said Burdick. "I was fortunate to benefit from his help in 2007 and again last year. He had a ready smile, a big handshake and a big heart. I will miss him very much."
Gabrielson added that Lemon was "a lovely guy," whom he first met while running for office in 2007. He described him as a literary-type, often seen sporting tweed jackets, and apparently a jazz fan with an email address of "FatsWaller."
"He was still quite active as a district leader, making phone calls and partcipating in meetings," said Gabrielson. "He was the kind of liberal Democrat I grew up with, just a great guy. I'll miss his wit and wisdom, and his long perspective on things Bedford."