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Jane Bennett Clark--A Eulogy to Our "Beautiful Wordsmith"

Jane was a gifted author who could write about anything and make it sing.

On a very personal note, I’d like to share with you some tragic news that has deeply affected us here at Kiplinger. Senior editor Jane Bennett Clark, one of the most talented members of our staff, has passed away of head injuries she suffered recently after being struck by a bicyclist while walking to the Metro just a few blocks from our Washington, D.C., office. Kiplinger’s readers know Jane as our retirement expert. She wrote our March cover story (6 Steps to Retire When You Want), and in her final Rethinking Retirement column, she wrote about moving to be closer to adult children and grandkids.

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Our staff knew Jane as a gifted author who could write about anything and make it sing. In fact, she did write about anything and everything during her career at Kiplinger—which began in 1977 and resumed full-time in 2002 after a hiatus to raise her three children. She once shopped with Marvin Hamlisch for a story on how to buy a piano. She did a feature story on bathroom remodeling, and in writing about sinks she led off with this sentence: “They’re so pretty you kind of hate to spit in them.” It was pure, witty Jane, painting an evocative picture.

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No one could top her ability to conjure up just the right word to use in a headline. Last year she coauthored our series on women and money, which has so far won two journalism awards from her peers. She also supervised our annual college rankings project. Reacting to her death, one of her longtime college sources wrote to us, “I have greatly appreciated her compassion, sensitive nature, intelligence and rational, professional judgment. I know of no reporter who was more responsible or concerned with getting the story correct. And she always did. A thoroughly magnificent lady.”

After I described her recently as a “beautiful wordsmith,” I realized that Jane, ever the stickler for language, would have chided me that the phrase has a double meaning. Did I mean that she wrote beautiful prose, or that she was a beautiful person who wrote prose? In Jane’s case, both of those things are true.

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