Obituary: Candace Caruthers / Award-winning TV writer-producer

Sept. 27, 1948 - Aug. 8, 2008

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Candace Caruthers was a crusading television producer, writer and spokesperson in New York City, California and Pittsburgh before a brain aneurysm ended her career in 1994.

In a career that focused on social justice, she produced one series that was nominated for an Emmy and another that earned an Award for Cable Excellence.

A 14-year resident of The Willows care home in Oakmont, she died Friday at age 59 after a series of seizures.

The daughter of jazz saxophonist Earl "Jock" Caruthers, Ms. Caruthers was born in Harlem but raised in Kansas. She graduated from Howard University, lived briefly in Philadelphia, where her first husband was attending school, then moved to New York.

There she rose to be editorial director at ABC's flagship station, after serving as a writer and associate producer in various capacities, including an acclaimed series on mental health and journalism.

Meanwhile, her first marriage ended and she married Pittsburgh native Roy Morrow in 1975. The couple moved to San Francisco in 1981, and Ms. Caruthers worked first for ABC's San Francisco affiliate and then for the cable station across the bay in Oakland.

During that period she produced "Continent in Crisis: The African Drought," which was nominated for an Emmy, and "Don't Leave Out the Cowboys," which won the cable excellence award.

"Continent in Crisis" looked at an ongoing drought in Africa and the response by black Americans; "Cowboys" illustrated the role of African-American cowboys in settling the American West.

"She had a great desire to use her talents as a producer and as a very spiritual person to celebrate social justice and to unveil social injustice," her husband said.

A Westinghouse employee, Mr. Morrow was transferred to Pittsburgh in 1989, and Ms. Caruthers was named director of community affairs at WPXI, working there until 1992. In 1991, she won a Robert L. Vann Award from the Pittsburgh Black Media Federation for her work.

Ms. Caruthers left WPXI to take a position as public affairs director for Pittsburgh Healthy Start, a program which provides pre-natal and post-natal health care to African-American women.

A brain aneurysm in 1994 left her in a coma for almost a year. Surgery eventually restored many of her functions, but she suffered from short-term memory loss for the rest of her life, unable to remember conversations 15 minutes after they occurred.

Her husband said she remained warm and joyful despite her condition.

"She was always bubbly, always very grateful and gracious," he said. "As a mom, as my wife and as my friend she didn't need to thank me for visiting her, but she always did."

Along with her husband, Ms. Caruthers is survived by a son, Roy C. Morrow; a daughter, Gloria Constance Morrow; a brother, Earl Caruthers; and a sister, Tonya Stewart.

Friends will be received from 4 to 8 p.m. tomorrow at White Memorial Chapel of Point Breeze, 7204 Thomas Blvd. The funeral will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at East Liberty Presbyterian Church.


Brian David can be reached at bdavid@post-gazette.com or at 412-722-0086.


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