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Date: Wed, 31 Jan 2007 22:35:39 -0500
From: moderator@PORTSIDE.ORG
Subject: Columnist Molly Ivins Dies

Columnist Molly Ivins Dies

Star-Telegram (Ft. Worth, TX)
January 31, 2007

AUSTIN — Molly Ivins, whose biting columns mixed
liberal populism with an irreverent Texas wit, died at
5:30 p.m. Wednesday at her home in Austin after an up-
and-down battle with breast cancer she had waged for
seven years. She was 62.

Ms. Ivins, the Star-Telegram's political columnist for
nine years ending in 2001, had written for the New York
Times, the Dallas Times-Herald and Time magazine and
had long been a sought-after pundit on the television
talk-show circuit to provide a Texas slant on issues
ranging from President Bush’s pedigree to the culture
wars rooted in the 1960s.

"She was magical in her writing," said Mike Blackman, a
former Star-Telegram executive editor who hired Ms.
Ivins at the newspaper’s Austin bureau in 1992, a few
months after the Times-Herald ceased publication. "She
could turn a phrase in such a way that a pretty hard-
hitting point didn’t hurt so bad."

A California native who moved to Houston as a young
child with her family, Ms. Ivins was diagnosed with
breast cancer in 1999. Two years later after enduring a
radical mastectomy and rounds of chemotherapy, Ms.
Ivins was given a 70 percent chance of remaining
cancer-free for five years. At the time, she said she
liked the odds.

But the cancer recurred in 2003, and again last year.
In recent weeks, she had suspended her twice-weekly
syndicated column, allowing guest writers to use the
space while she underwent further treatment. She made a
brief return to writing in mid-January, urging readers
to resist President Bush’s plan to increase the number
of U.S. troops deployed to Iraq. She likened her call
to an old-fashioned "newspaper crusade."

"We are the people who run this country," Ms Ivins said
in the column published in the Jan. 14 edition of the
Star-Telegram. "We are the deciders. And every single
day, every single one of us needs to step outside and
take some action to help stop this war.

"Raise hell," she continued. "Think of something to
make the ridiculous look ridiculous. Make our troops
know we’re for them and are trying to get them out of
there. Hit the streets to protest Bush's proposed

She ended the piece by endorsing the peace march in
Washington scheduled for Saturday. 01-27 "We need
people in the streets, banging pots and pans and
demanding, "Stop it, now!' " she wrote.

The spice of Texas

Born Mary Tyler Ivins on Aug. 30, 1944, in Monterey,
Calif., Ms. Ivins was raised in the upscale River Oaks
section of Houston. She earned her journalism degree at
elite Smith College in Massachusetts in 1965. From
there she ventured to Minnesota, taking a job as a
police reporter for the Minneapolis Tribune.

Growing weary of the winters in the Upper Great Lakes
and missing the spice of Texas food and its politics,
Ms. Ivins moved to Austin to become co-editor of the
Texas Observer, long considered the state’s liberal

Nadine Eckhardt, the former wife of the late Texas
novelist Billy Lee Bramer and who later married former
U.S. Rep. Bob Eckhardt of Houston, said Ivins soon made
herself a fixture in the Austin political and cocktail
party scene in the early 1970s.

"That’s where she became the Molly Ivins as we’ve come
to know her," said Eckhardt, an Ivins friend for nearly
four decades. "The Observer had such wonderful writers
doing such wonderful stories at the time, and Molly was
always right in the middle of everything."

Her writing flair caught the attention of the New York
Times, which hired her to cover city hall, then later
moved her to the statehouse bureau in Albany. Later,
she was assigned to the Times’ Rocky Mountain bureau in

Even though she wrote the Times’ obituary for Elvis
Presley in 1977, Ms. Ivins said later that she and the
sometimes stodgy Times proved to be a mismatch. In a
2002 interview with the Star-Telegram, Ms. Ivins
recalled that she would write about something that
"squawked like a $2 fiddle" only to have a Times editor
rewrite it to say "as an inexpensive instrument." Ms
Ivins said she would mention a "beer belly" and The
Times would substitute "a protuberant abdomen.”

So Ms. Ivins returned to Austin in 1982 to become a
columnist for the Dallas Times-Herald and reconnecting
with such political figures as Ann Richards, who would
later become governor, and Bob Bullock, then the hard-
drinking state comptroller who later wielded great
power as lieutenant governor.

Trademark language

The column provided Ms. Ivins the freedom to express
her views with the colorful language that would become
her trademark. She called such figures as Ross Perot,
former U.S. Sen. John Tower and ex-Gov. Bill Clements
"runts with attitudes." As a candidate for governor,
George W. Bush became "Shrub," a nicknamed she never
tired of using.

Surprised became "womperjawed." A visibly angry person
would "throw a walleyed fit."

Ms. Ivins, who was single and had no children, told
readers about her first bout with cancer in a matter-
of-fact afterword in an otherwise ordinary column.

"I have contracted an outstanding case of breast
cancer, from which I fully intend to recover," she
wrote on Dec. 14, 1999. "I don’t need get-well cards,
but I would like the beloved women readers to do
something for me: Go. Get. The. Damn. Mammogram. Done."

Ms. Ivins authored three books and co-authored a
fourth. She was a three-time finalist for a Pulitzer
Prize and had served on Amnesty International’s
Journalism Network, but the iconoclastic writer often
said that her two highest honors were being banned from
the conservative campus of Texas A&M University and
having the Minneapolis police name their mascot pig
after her when she covered the department as a reporter
during one of her first jobs in the newspaper business.

Funeral arrangements were pending.

John Moritz, 512-476-4294

© 2007 and wire service sources. All
Rights Reserved.


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