JOHN M. BLACK / 1949-2005

Local journalism
hall of-famer made
a profound impact
from behind the scenes

John M. Black, who helped many students find internships and careers in journalism, died of liver cancer Saturday at St. Francis Hospice in Nuuanu. He was 56.

"He may not be a famous face on the 6 o'clock news or recognizable voice on the radio or have a notable byline, but John Black's contribution to the field of journalism is just as significant, if not more so," said Craig DeSilva at Black's induction into the Hall of Fame of the Hawaii Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists in June.

Black worked as a volunteer on SPJ's internship program for the past 20 years, said DeSilva, an SPJ-Hawaii director.

DeSilva says Black was effective in getting the job done, never drawing attention to himself, always focusing on the students. "He was a very modest guy," DeSilva said.

Black applied the same quiet effectiveness during his years at Trade Publishing Co., beginning in 1980 as a reporter, becoming editor and later trying his hand in sales.

He garnered numerous awards for his reporting and excellence in journalism.

"He was extremely thorough, and the stories carried a lot of credibility," said Carl Hebenstreit, publisher of Trade Publishing. He was editor for several of Trade's publications, including Building Industry and Hawaii Hospitality.

Black left to start Rainbow Pacific Publishing but returned to Trade.

His wife, Rainbow Lu, said her husband worked conscientiously six days a week, 12 hours a day, even when he was in extreme pain, never complaining.

"He said, 'I want to live for you and Nolan (their son, 15),'" Lu said. Doctors gave him three months, but his positive attitude kept him alive for 15 months, she said.

Black also performed community work, tutoring, serving on the board of directors, mentoring and coaching.

Born in New York, Black attended Pennsylvania State University where he was Phi Beta Kappa. After graduating, he came to Hawaii in 1977 to attend the East-West Center on a full scholarship.

Longtime friend Penny Rogers described Black as "the epitome of a good man and a man of integrity, modesty ... and incredible kindness."

Black is also survived by sister Ann and brother Robert.

A funeral Mass will be said at noon at Our Lady of Peace Cathedral downtown. Interment will follow at 1:30 p.m. at Nuuanu Memorial Park.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Nolan Black's college fund.

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