National Geographic : 1970 Dec
Frederick G. Vosburgh Retires as Editor; Gilbert M. Grosvenor Succeeds Him By MELVIN M. PAYNE, Sc.D. President, National Geographic Society FTER NEARLY 37 YEARS OF SERVICE to the National Geographic Society, Frederick G. Vosburgh has retired as Editor of its magazine and other publications. To succeed him, the Board of Trustees elected Gilbert M. Grosvenor, 39, who had risen to Associate Editor since joining the staff 16 years ago. I was present at the board meeting during which Mr. Vosburgh announced his decision. It was no surprise: He had passed the Society's normal retirement age of 65 and continued as Editor an additional year at the board's request, but he had told us he wished to retire this fall to devote more time to writing. Nevertheless, when the words brought us face-to-face with the finality of his decision, they had a startling impact. The NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, it came home to us suddenly, was losing the serv ices of a man whose talents were peculiarly suited to its needs, whose voice had been heard and heeded on every major editorial decision taken in the past 20 years. All of us at the GEOGRAPHIC would henceforth be without our daily contacts with a colleague who could at times be a scathing critic, but on whose fairness and firm friendship one could always rely. As the meeting closed, Dr. Melville Bell Grosvenor, Editor-in Chief and Chairman of the Board, summed up in the language of the sea that comes naturally to him: "No magazine ever had a steadier, more reliable helmsman than Ted Vosburgh. This ship will miss his hand on the tiller, although I know the crew he has gotten together will do a great job." Mr. Vosburgh has also retired as a Vice President of the Society, but he remains a Trustee. Driven by a Curiosity That Never Quits I had been with the Society little more than a year when, in October 1933, Ted Vosburgh joined the magazine's editorial staff. With him the slim young man of 29 brought a bachelor's degree in liberal arts from Syracuse University, a Phi Beta Kappa key, and 11 years' experience as a reporter, the last seven with the Associated Press. He brought other assets, of course, and not the least was a reserved yet dynamic enthusiasm that never, in all the passing years, dwindled. In our cafeteria dining rooms I have many times heard staff writers, researchers, photographers speaking in awed tones of Ted's persistence with a story idea he thought good. "Start boning up on the solar system," one of them remarked 838 Eye of the Editor scruti nizes every picture, every word that appears in the magazine. Here Frederick (Ted) Vosburgh, right, near screen, evaluates illustra tions for a March 1970 arti cle on Japan's Kansai region. In the Everglades, Ted and wife Pat explore the Anhinga Trail, pursuing a lifetime rapport with wildlife. Their companions: Dr. Alexander Wetmore, left, a Society Trus tee and famed ornithologist, and naturalist-photographer Frederick Kent Truslow. As Ted left the GEOGRAPHIC helm, Pat retired as Editor of an American Psychiatric Association journal, Hospi tal & Community Psychiatry.