NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Mike McQueen, a former Florida International University journalism professor who later became chief of bureau for The Associated Press in Louisiana and Mississippi, has died. He was 52.

McQueen, who had been on medical leave since the spring, died Sunday, Oct. 25 from complications of cancer and congestive heart failure.  His funeral is scheduled for Friday in New Orleans, with a burial set for Monday in St. Augustine.  A South Florida memorial service will take place on Nov. 7.  

McQueen’s journalism career spanned three decades, including two stints with the AP and work on two Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper teams.

“Mike’s passion for stories and his love for fellow journalists could light up a room. He was a creative and caring editor and newsroom mentor. We are heartbroken about his passing,” said Kathleen Carroll, the AP’s executive editor.

In 2006, McQueen returned to the AP as assistant chief of bureau in New Orleans, helping manage the news report and AP’s relationship with newspapers in the two states.  Later that year, he was promoted to chief of bureau.

“Mike took on a big challenge when he came back to the AP,” said Michael Giarrusso, AP’s regional news director for the South and West. “It was just months after Hurricane Katrina, and the two states, newspapers throughout the region and the AP were still dealing with the aftermath of the disaster.”

McQueen, formerly managing editor of The Macon (Ga.) Telegraph, was part of a Knight-Ridder team of editors who traveled to the Gulf Coast region in the aftermath of Katrina.  McQueen worked with the Sun Herald newspaper of Biloxi-Gulfport, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 2006.

“I will always remember him as a strong and able man who helped us in the time of our greatest need,” Executive Editor Stan Tiner said.
Ron Harrist, longtime AP Mississippi news editor, called McQueen a true journalist.

“The thing I’ll remember most about Mike was how much he loved his job and he loved the people who worked for him,” Harrist said.  Earlier in his career, McQueen was an editor at The Miami Herald, where he was part of a Pulitzer Prize-winning team in 1993.

McQueen began his career in 1977 as a reporter for the Tallahassee Democrat after graduating from Florida State University. He had a master’s degree in communications from Florida Atlantic University.

McQueen joined AP for the first time in 1980, working in Miami as a reporter and editor, and then in Tallahassee as a correspondent before joining The Miami Herald in 1984.  McQueen later worked on the staffs of USA Today and Gannett News Service, and served as chair of the journalism and broadcasting sequence of Florida International University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication.  McQueen was a longtime member of the National Association of Black Journalists and was the organization’s Southeast regional director from 1986 to 1988.

“Mike made many wonderful contributions to NABJ and journalism,” NABJ President Kathy Y. Times, who recently met with McQueen during the Fall 2008 Board trip to New Orleans, said on the organization’s website. “I was numb when I learned of his passing, but I found great comfort in knowing his work will live on in the many lives he touched.”

He was the president of the South Florida chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists from 1999 to 2000. SPJ has established a scholarship in his honor.

Julie Kay, the current SPJ chapter president, said on the organization’s website, “On a personal note, he recruited me for the board — as he did many others — and remained a good friend. The entire South Florida journalism community will mourn Mike, a wonderful and kind man, as well as a top-notch journalist.’’

Ronnie Agnew, executive editor of The Clarion-Ledger in Jackson, Miss., said McQueen was an outstanding professional who helped promote diversity in journalism.

McQueen’s oldest son, Michael McQueen II, was killed in 2006. His roommate, a fellow former U.S. Army Ranger he served with in Afghanistan, was convicted of murder and sentenced to 35 years in prison.

“Even in times of great tragedy, when he lost his son, he was still calling Jackson to see if we needed anything from The Associated Press,” Agnew said.

Survivors include his wife, Glenda McQueen; son Otto of Thibodaux, La.; a younger brother, Christopher McQueen of Miami; and a sister, Nicole Brewton of Pembroke Pines.

The funeral will be on Friday, Oct. 30 at 5 p.m. at St. Anna’s Episcopal Church, 1313 Esplanade Avenue, New Orleans, La.  There will be a public viewing on Friday from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the church.   The funeral home in New Orleans is Charbonnet Funeral Homes, 1615 St. Phillip Street, New Orleans.

Burial will be on Monday, Nov. 2 at the Evergreen Cemetery, 505 N. Rodriguez Street, St. Augustine, Florida.

St. Augustine interment arrangements are handled by Leo C. Chase & Son Funeral Home, 262 W. King Street, St. Augustine.

The South Florida memorial service for Mike McQueen is scheduled for 3 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 7 at The Wolfe University Center Ballroom at Florida International University, 3000 N.E. 151st St., North Miami, FL 33181. The phone number there is 305-919-5500. Bradley Bennett, executive editor of the South Florida Times, will lead the service.  For more information or to participate in the memorial service, please email or call 954-356-9360.

To donate to the Mike McQueen Scholarship Fund set up by the Society of Professional Journalists, please send your check to chapter administrator Tim Dodson at Tim Dodson Strategic Communications, 780 NE 69th Street, Suite 807, Miami, FL 33138-5745.

Checks should be made out to the Society of Professional Journalists and “Mike McQueen Scholarship Fund” should be included below on the subject line.  For more information, call Tim Dodson at 305-756-0735.

Photo: Mike McQueen