As we prepare for our annual conference, members of Journalism and Women Symposium (JAWS) are deeply saddened by the news that longtime member Betsy Wade passed away at home in Manhattan on Thursday, Dec. 3.
Wade’s husband, James Boylan, told The New York Times that she had learned in 2017 she had colon cancer.
A born and raised New Yorker, Wade was 91. Throughout her legendary, decades-long career, she fought for women’s rights, workplace protections and equal pay in newsrooms.
Wade’s accomplishments include in 1956 being the first woman copy editor at The New York Times. Wade was the lead plaintiff in a class-action sex discrimination suit against the times in 1974. The lawsuit was settled in 1978 and Wade continued blazing trails at the Times during her 45-year career. She also was the first woman elected president of the Newspaper Guild of New York in 1978.
“Betsy broke gender barriers that opened doors for other women to walk through. We are forever grateful for her tenacity and courage in the fight for women journalists to be treated fairly in our industry,” JAWS President Mira Lowe said. “JAWS benefited greatly from her wisdom and generosity. We will miss her dearly.”
Wade’s talents included making the JAWS Quilt, which she sewed to commemorate the organization’s 20th anniversary. The Quilt now has a legacy of its own. Annually, during CAMP, the quilt is presented to a different JAWS member, who then owns it for a year.
The quilt itself is meant to symbolize something like a big JAWS hug, providing an extra dose of warmth and friendship to its caretaker. The JAWS Quilt is meant to celebrate strength, grace and sisterhood — the very fabric of Wade’s being and legacy.
JAWS will pay a special tribute to Wade during its quilt giving ceremony at CAMP this weekend.