GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (AP) - Andy Angelo, an award-winning and beloved journalist at The Grand Rapids Press who was hailed as a professional mentor during a 25-year career at the West Michigan newspaper, has died. He was 55.
Angelo passed away around 3:30 a.m. Tuesday with his wife, Mary, and grandchildren at his side, said Paul Keep, executive editor of print for MLive Media Group. Keep told The Associated Press that Angelo died at Spectrum Health Blodgett Hospital after a short illness.
Angelo retired early this year but delayed his departure to help the copy desk's transition to MLive Media Group.
Angelo, who oversaw daily production of The Grand Rapids Press and other newspapers, including the Kalamazoo Gazette and The Muskegon Chronicle, earned the prestigious American Copy Editors Society's Robinson Prize in 2010.
"This is a day of great mourning at the MLive Media Group," company President Dan Gaydou told MLive.com .
"Andy Angelo was a consummate news executive. His eye for the stories that counted, his sense of balance and fairness and his positive humanity helped make The Grand Rapids Press a great newspaper every day. I am stunned and deeply saddened as I ponder his passing."
"His team would do anything for him because he would do anything for them. If you saw something in the newspaper that you appreciated over the past couple of decades, odds are Andy had a key role in making it happen. He was the glue for our newsroom — its heart and soul."
Angelo was born into a journalistic family on the east side of Michigan, but "earned his stripes — and the respect of colleagues — on the west side of the state," Keep said.
Keep said the newsroom was proud of Angelo earning the Robinson Prize near the end of his career.
"He richly deserved the attention, although, being Andy, he didn't make a big deal about it. We will miss him."
Angelo also worked as a reporter and editor for the AP and newspapers in Michigan. He joined The Grand Rapids Press after a stint in Rockford, Ill.
Angelo oversaw the consolidation of the regional copy desk in Grand Rapids, where he first began as an assistant metro editor and was later promoted to metro editor. He moved to the copy desk in 1997, and led a redesign with new printing presses and deadlines.
"Andy was a gentle soul in a business that did not always share that quality," said former deputy news editor Darin Estep, who worked with Angelo for 13 years.
"He believed in accuracy, integrity and truth — but also about treating people with respect and decency. He was fiercely loyal to his friends and family, and a mentor to a generation of journalists. When someone would move on to another career or another city, it didn't matter. Those bonds stayed strong; Andy stayed true to his friendships."
Angelo also volunteered in the community. He served on the Grandville Avenue Arts & Humanities board and the Circle Theatre Board of Directors. He also was a freelance book editor and edited "Gathered at the River," a history of Grand Rapids churches published in 1993 by The Grand Rapids Area Council for the Humanities.
"He was one of those rare people about whom you can say confidently, 'He made the world a better place.' His absence will leave a huge hole," Estep said.
Funeral arrangements were pending Tuesday.
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