NEW YORK — Charles O’Malley, a former director of theColumbia Scholastic Press Association and for decades one of the nation’sleading advocates for the advancement of student journalism, died Wednesday onthe opening day of the association’s 84th annual convention. He was 93.
O’Malley led the Columbia University-based association for more than adecade, from 1969 to 1981. He remained an active student press advocate for therest of his life.
“He was a generous benefactor to Columbia College and to the CSPA as wellas to scholastic press activities at Ball State University, the University ofSouth Carolina and the Student Press Law Center, as well as his beloved St.Patrick’s School in Perry, Iowa, a school founded by his mother and of which hewas a proud graduate,” said Ed Sullivan, CSPA’s executive director, in a writtenstatement. “He was my friend for 38 years and we will all miss his warmth, humorand kindness.”
O’Malley was himself a student journalist. His biography on CSPA’s Web sitenotes that he was editor of his high school paper and associate business managerfor The Columbia Spectator at Columbia College, where he earned hisdegree in 1944.
But his career also ranged far afield from scholatic journalism. He joinedthe Naval Reserve during World War II. His work in private industry includedstints as vice president and general manager at a large shipping company, aspublisher of a weekly newsletter on oil shipping and as a senior executive at acompany representing TV and radio stations, according to CSPA.
He joined the association in 1968 and became its leader the nextyear.
Former SPLC Executive Director Mark Goodman said O’Malley made some of thelargest contributions the center had ever received from an individual donor.O’Malley served as an honorary chairman of the SPLC’s “Tomorrow’s Voices”endowment campaign and made the largest individual pledge, Goodman said.
“I think what’s so amazing about that is that this is a person who had longsince ended his day-to-day involvement in the field of scholastic journalism,but despite that fact, he still was so committed to it,” Goodman said.
Mike Hiestand, legal consultant to the SPLC, said O’Malley was “a greatfriend of the Student Press Law Center” and “instrumental” in the endowmentcampaign’s success.
“We owe him a great debt, just like all student media do,” he said.
O’Malley is survived by an extended family, including 14 nieces andnephews. A wake and funeral will be held in New York City. O’Malley will beburied in Perry, Iowa. Contributions in O’Malley’s honor may be made to St.Patrick’s School in Perry.