NANCY ANCRUM: Strong community voice “was such a spectacular, principled person.” PHOTO COURTESY OF FIU.EDU

Miami, Fla. – Retired Miami Herald Editorial Page Editor Nancy Ancrum, who won two Pulitzer Prizes for her work including her watchdog approach in covering Florida governors and other elected officials, died after a long illness, the Miami Herald first reported.

Ancrum, who was 67, died just weeks after her retirement at her Miami Shores home that she shared with her husband, retired mosaic artist and arts writer George Fishman.

Ancrum’s journalism career spanned more than 40 years, which started in Washington with the Baltimore Evening Sun, She later landed at USA Today in her native state of New York before joining the Miami Herald, where she developed a penchant for emotional debates and strong opinions about government officials and issues impacting people in South Florida.

Franklin Sirmans, director of the Pérez Art Museum Miami, told the Miami Herald, he cherishes the welcoming embrace Ancrum, also a native New Yorker, gave him when he took charge of PAMM in 2015.

“She truly believed that people’s opinions counted and that people needed to be heard and that there could be an open dialogue and conversation between people who might disagree but at least could respect each other enough through words,” Sirmans said. “Now, more than ever, we think about being able to have difficult conversations and she was somebody who led that charge for a decade that she was head of editorials. It’s incredible. What a legacy.”

Ancrum retired on Dec. 31, 2023 and appeared on WLRN’s South Florida Roundup as her colleagues paid tribute to her for dedication to journalism. "I’m retiring from the best job I ever had," she said during the show.

The community also thanked her for being its voice and being a champion on issues impacting their lives.

“Nancy Ancrum’s legacy shines brightly, illuminating the lives of those she touched with her dedication to journalism and unwavering commitment to truth,” said Alex Mena, executive editor of the Miami Herald and el Nuevo Herald.

“Her fearless reporting and compassionate storytelling enriched our community, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of many. Through her profound impact, Nancy’s spirit will continue to inspire and uplift, forever cherished and remembered.”

Myriam Márquez, the Herald editorial page editor who preceded Ancrum, said she was a perfect fit.

“Not only did she know Miami with all its warts, but her knowledge of Black Miami’s history and all the waves of immigration was instrumental in our board’s discussions about the future of South Florida," Marquez said. She had the best broadcast voice, knowledge

able without being pedantic or in your face. She was a jewel, and a great friend. I cannot process this. My thoughts are with her wonderful husband George and her extended family."

Ancrum was a frequent guest on WPLG’s “This Week in South Florida.” Former senior political reporter Micahel Putney, who co-hosted the show with Glenna Milberg, said the community lost a great person.

“It’s just a shocking, devastating loss to our community and to society,” said Putney. “She was such a spectacular, principled person.”

Ancrum’s sudden death was also felt by local government leaders who praised her for her work.

State Sen. Shervin Jones from West Park, said Ancrum wasn’t just a journalist but a force of nature, a beacon of truth and a dear friend.

"Her unwavering commitment to the principles of journalism and democracy was a source of inspiration for all who had the privilege of knowing her," he said. "Nancy’s passion for the free exchange of ideas was not just a professional virtue, but a deeply ingrained part of her character. Her pursuit of truth and justice was relentless, and her impact on the world of journalism and beyond is immeasurable. Nancy Ancrum’s passing has struck me."

State Rep. Dotie Joseph from North Miami said she, too, is still in shock over Ancurm’s death.

"I’m still trying to formulate the right words for the loss of this absolute giant in our community," Joseph said.

Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine Cava said she had the great pleasure to work with Ancurm over the years.

“Her humanity and deep care came through in all her editorials and in how she spoke at public events," Levine Cava said. "She made a mark through her steadfast integrity and expectation that others would meet the same high bar. I was so sad when she stepped down, and now devastated to lose her leadership for our community.”

George Fishman said Nancy always preferred editing to writing and totally blossomed in her role as head of the editorial board.

“The shouting and laughter that accompanied the serious business of crafting those opinion pieces was her greatest joy, which she already missed after retirement," he told the Herald. "I referred to the board as Nancy and the angels.”