Veteran Journalist Alan Cherry Dead At 59







Veteran Sun-Sentinel journalist Alan Cherry, who covered almost every city hall in West Broward before becoming an editor and helping dozens of reporters hone their craft, died Monday.


UnknownAlan Cherry


He was 59. He was my friend.

Cherry succumbed to multiple organ failure after a Sept. 23 procedure at Westside Regional Medical Center to mend an intestinal problem.

As a longtime reporter in the Lauderhill office of the newspaper, Cherry was there at the time of West Broward’s explosive growth. He covered the area as communities grew from tiny towns to major cities.

Prowling the government offices of West Broward, Cherry keep commissioners and mayors on their toes. He dug up dirt on everybody from the late Mayors Eugene Cipolloni of Lauderhill to Mayor John Lomelo of Sunrise to taxi tycoon Jesse Gaddis. They all felt the sting of his penetrating reporting.

Cherry was an old school journalist.  He was not the button-down graduate school type that is often hired to fill newsrooms today.  He frequently appeared somewhat scruffy, sporting a long beard, a baseball cap and a reporter’s pad stuck in his back pocket.  But his list of sources and institutional memory was unmatched. And he had a healthy skepticism about government and especially about many politicians.

His knowledge of the machinations of West Broward pols was invaluable to me when I was writing the Sun-Sentinel’s political column.

After decades in the West office of the newspaper, Cherry moved to Fort Lauderdale as an editor.

“He was a dedicated old-school reporter who thrived on afflicting the comfortable. As an editor, he excelled at helping young reporters grow. As a political junkie and a superb elections editor, he was especially busy and relied upon this time of year,” Dana Banker, metro editor of the Sun-Sentinel, e-mailed to the staff today.

After taking a buyout from the Sun-Sentinel several years ago, Cherry worked for Dan Christensen’s where I am also a staffer.

“As deputy editor, Cherry delighted in challenging conventional thinking and weak writing. He worked to ensure clarity for readers, while finding time to mentor aspiring journalists at Broward College,” Christensen wrote colleagues today.

He also took courses in music and produced several country-like compositions which he posted on the Internet here.

Alan is survived by his wife, Pat McDonough, also a former Sun-Sentinel staffer, and their son James. Services are pending.

There will be a viewing from 4 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Kalis-McIntee Funeral Home, 2505 N. Dixie Highway in Wilton Manors, followed by a wake at McGuires Hill 16  at 535 N. Andrews Ave, Fort Lauderdale.

His friends and colleagues plan to raise a beer for Alan.


12 Responses to “Veteran Journalist Alan Cherry Dead At 59”

  1. Brittany Wallman says:

    Cherry and I used to laugh about staking out the Sunrise building permit office when the director was dodging us. We camped out on the sidewalk for hours until he showed up. He was so thrown off he invited us in and gave us candy. Ha. Cherry was a very dear pal of mine. Somehow our friendship survived the period in which he was my boss. What a great guy.

  2. Susan Pignato says:

    My condolences to the family. I was ione of James’ teachers.

  3. Shannon OBoye says:

    No matter what I was writing about, Alan Cherry always knew more about it than I did. Granted, I was a 20-something piss ant, but, still, is there any higher praise you can give an editor? I’m so sorry he is gone.

  4. Tom Davidson says:

    I think I see a mistake here. Alan is referred to as “somewhat scruffy.” There was nothing “somewhat” about it. But for this Midwest refugee, there was no better introduction to Broward politics, or to the internal politics of the Sun-Sentinel. Alan was a gem.

  5. chacha says:

    This is indeed, a sad loss.

  6. Richard J Kaplan says:

    I knew Alan from the first day I got involved in Lauderhill politics (I have a story about that). I respected him and his work.

    His writing was so distinct and precise that when he edited someone else’s work I could see his influence in the article.

    I will truly miss his professionalism and fairness as a reporter and editor. That is probably something many would be surprised hearing from someone he would write about as an elected official. And no, he didn’t go easy on me if that what was called for.

    Rest in peace.


    Mr. Kaplan is the mayor of Lauderhill.

  7. Bob LaMendola says:

    Ah, what a loss. Alan helped me learn the way things work in Broward when I first came to the Sentinel in 1987. He constantly amazed me with his insight into what was really going on behind the scenes. And he pointed me to some of his favorite bars. Thanks, Alan.

  8. Deb Gibbs says:

    Alan will be unforgettable — and a symbol of what the profession has lost in recent years.

    My sincere sympathy to Pat and James.

  9. Ronald L. Book says:

    A Terrible loss for the community and for those who care for real journalism. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family.

  10. Sam The Sham says:

    I can remember when the paper was almost like a text book for grammar, punctuation, sentence structure and general readability. Not so much anymore.

    I never knew Alan Cherry but I suspect his departure from the SS, (and others like him), is one of the biggest reasons I no longer have a subscription to that rag.

  11. Commissioner Angelo Castillo says:

    It’s not that the world lacks professional, disciplined, talented and ethical journalists. We have tons of them. So what explains the fact that public regard and credibility for journalism is at an all time low?

    Quality journalists don’t get job offers from news sources anymore. Why? Because what they produce isn’t what news sources want to print anymore.

    Now, understandably this may cause many to point an angry finger at the media for feeding us that garbage. Yet in fairness it’s hard to blame a restaurant for dishing out slop when the customer is so clearly set on a menu fit for pigs.

    If what they had to offer was so objectionable, they’d be unable to sell it. And that’s worth a ponder as well. Anyway.

    Alan Cherry was a professional at his craft, I admired his work, and his passing at too young an age is a sad thing to hear.



  12. Susannah Bryan says:

    Alan Cherry ranks up there as one of my favorite editors. He cared about the story, he cared about the words and he cared about the person writing them. He had this sixth sense. He knew if his reporters needed a kind word, a gentle nudge or a swift kick in the keister.
    I missed him like hell after he left the paper. We all did. One day I called him and asked him to come back. He just laughed. I hope he knows how much he was loved. And that he really did make a difference, inside the newsroom and out.