Barbara Cloud, former Pittsburgh Press and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette fashion writer and columnist, died Friday at the home of her son and daughter-in-law, Drew and Maggie Cloud, in Summit, N.J.
A would-be actress who got into journalism as a temporary job, she worked as a reporter and editor for more than 50 years.
Although she formally retired from the newspaper business in 2008, she continued to write occasional columns for the Post-Gazette. Her last two pieces (March 12 and May 6, 2011) dealt with the return of the cancer she had battled to a draw a decade earlier.
"Barbara was that rarity in the newsroom and in newspapers of this or any era: respectful of the past and celebratory about the present, joyful and optimistic even in the face of medical peril, elegant in prose and in person," said Post-Gazette executive editor David M. Shribman.
"Her column was a tour guide to a Pittsburgh fast disappearing and yet she understood, appreciated and had a sense of wonder about the new technology and the new Pittsburgh.
"Thousands loved her. Several hundred of them worked in our building."
While her first job was with the Uniontown Evening Standard, she spent the bulk of her career with the Post-Gazette and Press.
"I was on an 82 Lincoln streetcar going through the Hill District's Centre Avenue in 1957 when I looked over someone's shoulder and saw my first byline in a Pittsburgh newspaper," she wrote in her January 2008 "retirement" column. "The pride in that has never gone away."
She died with her son, Drew, at her side. His triumphs and trials as he grew up from a toddler to a new father were the subjects of many of her pieces.
Carolyn Reuter is a retired Press and Post-Gazette copy editor who knew Ms. Cloud for more than 25 years. They met at the Press, where their desks were within shouting distance.
"She was the daughter of a doctor and she was not the most patient of patients," Ms. Reuter said. When her cancer returned, "she put up a good fight and she got to see her two granddaughters grow into sweet little girls."
"We shared an interest in gardening. She had a small garden at the back of her house and it was a beautiful place to sit and think or just do nothing."
Ms. Cloud had spent a week with her son and daughter-in-law in Stone Harbor, N.J., before returning with them to their home a week ago.
Arrangements are incomplete, but the funeral will be in Pittsburgh.
Len Barcousky: email@example.com or 412-263-1159. First Published September 15, 2012 5:15 PM