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Flora Lewis

(1918 - 2002)


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Flora Lewis is a journalist, who is at home in any part of the world writing and analyzing events on the national and international scene. She has gone to places and reached heights in the newspaper industry where few women have been.

She was born in Los Angeles, California, in 1920 to Pauline and Benjamin Lewis, who was a prominent attorney. She was a talented and gifted student, who graduated high school when she was fifteen. Three years later, she received her B.A. Degree, Summa Cum Laude, from the University of California. She went to Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and obtained her masters' degree in 1941.

Lewis went to work for the Associated Press in their New York office. She was soon transferred to Washington D.C. to cover the Navy and State Departments. In 1945, she was transferred to their London office, two days before V-J Day.

In London, she married Sydney Gruson, a New York Times foreign correspondent whom she had met while she was a student at Columbia. Because of their busy schedule, they were married on their lunch hour.

She left the Associated Press in 1946 so that she could go with her husband to Poland where he had been transferred. From 1946 to 1954, she free lanced for Time Magazine, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, The Economist of London, the London Observer and France-Soir of Paris. During her free lance period, Lewis traveled on assignments throughout Europe, Israel and Mexico.

Her career took off on her return to New York City in 1955. She was an editor with McGraw-Hill Publishing Co., first woman foreign correspondent for :Washington Post, first chief of the Washington Post's newly opened New York City office, she traveled five times to Vietnam during a five year period and in 1972, she joined The New York Times as chief of its Paris bureau.

In 1980, she became a columnist for The New York Times and she exposed terrorist activities in many European countries. She was the author of four books which were well received.

Flora Lewis has been recognized for her achievements in journalism by many universities, colleges and civic organizations. She has been honored four times by the Overseas Press Club for best foreign- affairs reporting for articles in The New York Times (1957), for best daily newspaper or wire interpretation of foreign affairs (1963 and 1977), for best analysis of foreign affairs in Western Europe (1979), The Edward Weintal Award (1978), The French Government's Cross of the Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, the country's highest award in peacetime (1981),.the Matrix Award for Newspapers from New York Women in Communication (1985), and the Elmer Holmes Bobst Award in Arts and Letters from New York University (1987).

During her marriage to Sydney Gruson, they had three children: Kerrv was born in Ireland, Shelia was born in Israel and Lindsley was born in Mexico. Her life was like a juggler in trying to balance her role as a journalist., wife and mother.

Flora Lewis is an outstanding woman who achieved in a male dominated profession. She made it easier for other women to enter and to succeed in the newspaper industry.


Sources: This is one of the 150 illustrated true stories of American heroism included in Jewish Heroes & Heroines of America : 150 True Stories of American Jewish Heroism, © 1996, written by Seymour "Sy" Brody of Delray Beach, Florida, illustrated by Art Seiden of Woodmere, New York, and published by Lifetime Books, Inc., Hollywood, FL.

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