Ronald W. Wade, 62, formerly of Wyncote, a journalist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch who had worked at the highest editing levels at newspapers around the country, including the Inquirer, died Wednesday, Jan. 25, at St. Louis University Hospital just days after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.
Mr. Wade was the consummate professional, handling with finesse the hectic, often rapidly changing night newsgathering and print and Web production of the Post-Dispatch. He made big decisions while also handling “the daily sausage-making” with wit, warmth and an unwavering cool hand.
“Ron possessed great intellect and news judgment in his vital role as news editor,” said Post-Dispatch editor Gilbert Bailon. “But even more important, Ron was beloved because of class, grace and a great sense of humor.”
During his 10-plus years at the Post-Dispatch, Mr. Wade “put to bed” front pages on events as chaotic as the protests and violence after Michael Brown’s death by a police officer in the suburb of Ferguson, and as remarkable as David Freese’s last-out home run in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series, setting up the Cardinals for a Game 7 win over the Texas Rangers.
But perhaps the sweetest story was the World Series win in November by his beloved Chicago Cubs. Mr. Wade watched from the newsroom the night they clinched the National League pennant, prompting his delighted night shift colleagues to record the moment on a cellphone.
Mr. Wade was born in Chicago, a city he loved, and about which he gave detailed dining advice to anyone who asked.
He graduated as valedictorian from what is now King College Prep High School in the Hyde Park neighborhood of Chicago in 1972, after another student who had the honor died in an accident. His daughter Tasha said the mother of that student paid for most of Mr. Wade’s education at Harvard University, where he received a bachelor’s degree in East Asian studies in 1976.
Before joining the Post-Dispatch in 2006, Mr. Wade was a deputy news and sports editor at the Inquirer for 11 years.
Lynn Maree Ross, a longtime friend and an assistant news editor at the Inquirer, said Mr. Wade was a mentor and was especially close to his team that produced the Sunday paper.
“When he got moved to sports, Ron said, ‘Well, they can break up the team, but they can’t break up the friendship.’ That just spoke volumes about what it was like to know Ron and be a friend of his,” Ross said.
Mr. Wade joined the Inquirer’s news desk in 1995, and quickly became known for his people skills, especially when there was disagreement. He liked to lean back from the discussion to see what others thought, and then jump in with a wide smile in a way that broke the tension.
Before coming to the Inquirer, Mr. Wade was assistant managing editor for news at the Minneapolis Star Tribune for 11 years. He also worked on the copy or news desks of the Washington Post, Buffalo Courier Express, Long Island Newsday, Louisville Times, and Chicago Tribune.
Mr. Wade also was a mentor to many young journalists of color.
When he moved to Wyncote, Mr. Wade was determined to immerse himself in all things suburban. He questioned a colleague on how to set up a bird bath and feeding station in a corner of his backyard. When the birds came, he was ecstatic.
In addition to his daughter, Mr. Wade is survived by his wife, Mollie; daughters Sharon and Lisa; and sons Shawn, Dei-ontae, Aaron, and Jaden.
A memorial service will be Saturday, Feb. 18, in St. Louis, with details to be determined.
Staff writer Bonnie L. Cook contributed to this article.