Jan Lovell, former Detroit News staffer, dies at 78

Longtime Detroit News staffer Jan Lovell died Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, leaving behind a legacy of more than four decades in journalism.

Mr. Lovell of Grosse Pointe was 78. He had battled Parkinson’s and cancer in recent years, his family said.

A funeral was Saturday at Grosse Pointe Woods. Family, friends and colleagues shared memories and posted photos and remarks in an online obituary.

Charlotte Massey, a former assistant photo editor at The Detroit News, said Lovell was her favorite person to work with. She met him in 1988 when she was an imaging technician and Mr. Lovell was a photography editor.

Mr. Lovell worked at The News for more than 40 years, leaving the newspaper by 2010, relatives said.

“He was just an all-around great guy … he was really good at his job,” Massey said. “He did various jobs at the paper. He was an editor, copy editor, production editor, ran the imaging desk. He was wonderful. He was the kindest man I ever worked with.

“Everybody loved him. He was amazingly conscientious. He was superb to work for. He treated everybody with respect, dignity and kindness.”

And, she said, “he had a great sense of humor.”

The relationships in the newsroom were key to Mr. Lovell’s tenure, said Beverly Lovell, his wife of 54 years. “He liked the people he worked with.”

Besides his wife, other survivors include three children, Ian, Drew and Gwyndolyn; and seven grandchildren.

Patricia Anstett said in a Facebook post that Mr. Lovell was “friendly, helpful, very professional” and “designed great, newsy pages. He always brought an A game.”

Susan Burzynski Bullard, a former managing editor at The News, called him “calm and collected under pressure.”

“He never had an unkind word for anyone,” she said in a Facebook post. “He’s exactly the kind of presence you want in the newsroom, particularly on a crazy news day.”

Nancy Hanus met Mr. Lovell in 1986, when she was a copy editor at The News.

“We became close colleagues and then good friends,” she said, especially in 2002, when they started working together in the Photography Department.

“He quietly did his job, but also was that person … that you could always count on, and he was invaluable to me because I came in as photo director and I had never been a photo director,” Hanus said. “He was there every single time I had a question, every single time I needed something.”

She saw him change departments at The News multiple times. He always was dependable and accountable, no matter what position he had, she said.

“He was like the calm in the storm, that person in the newsroom that never drew attention to himself, but was always there for everyone,” Hanus said. “He was like that person everyone could go to … get advice. He was super, super smart and he knew a lot, not just a ton about the local area, but pictures and the world.”

Born Oct 7, 1944, in Canada, Mr. Lovell and his family relocated to Metro Detroit.

Drawing on the language skills he learned in Catholic school, he worked at Wayne State University’s student newspaper while a student there, his wife said.

He later was drafted into the Army and spent nearly two years at Fort Carson in Colorado, where he used his typing and photography skills, and earned a commendation for meritorious service, Beverly Lovell said.

Back in Metro Detroit, Mr. Lovell started working for a newspaper in Wyandotte before graduating from Wayne State, she said.

For years, he told his family about how he applied to The News and was hired after a one-day trial run, his wife said. “He was very proud of himself.”

After leaving at age 65, Mr. Lovell focused on passions including cooking and heading outdoors, including reunions near the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

“He said his retirement was a blessing of sorts because he was always planning meals for friends, family and neighbors,” his wife said. “He did a lot more camping. Being in nature was his favorite activity.”

Hanus recalled those long-held interests.

“When I left The News, he gave me a compass and he said: ‘… Figure out which way to go’ … that’s the kinds of things he would do. He would come up with something meaningful and share it. “

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