Legendary Barron's Columnist Alan Abelson Dies At 87

Alan AbelsonSad news on Wall Street today: 

Veteran Barron’s columnist Alan Abelson has died at 87.

Alan wrote one of the most-read columns in the financial world for almost 50 years.

Barron’s editor Ed Finn just published the following note about Alan, which Barron’s was kind enough to give us permission to publish.

Alan Abelson: 1925 to 2013
Financial journalism lost one of its leading lights today when Alan Abelson died at the age of 87. Alan had served Barron’s as a writer, editor, and chief columnist for the past 57 years.

For many readers, there can be no substitute for Alan’s witty, wise and wonderfully written comments each week in Up and Down Wall Street. But Alan’s contributions toBarron’s, and to financial journalism, go beyond his marvellous column. During his career, Alan trained dozens of journalists to be sceptical, to be exacting, to help average investors, and to be on the lookout for Wall Street’s crooks. About 10 of these fine journalists still work at Barron’s, I’m happy to say. Others have gone on to do groundbreaking work at The New York Times, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, and numerous financial newsletters.

One of the unique things about Alan was that his keen knowledge of Wall Street was matched by his love of artful writing. Before Alan began his newspaper career in 1947, he earned a bachelor’s degree in English and Chemistry from The City College of New York and a master’s degree from the prestigious Writers Workshop at the University of Iowa, which counts among its alumni Flannery O’Connor, Jane Smiley and John Irving. In our view, Alan ranks among them.

Alan arrived at Barron’s in 1956 and began writing his column in 1966.

When Alan interviewed me for a job at Barron’s in 1993, he was 67. He had been Barron’seditor for a dozen years and its managing editor for 16 years before that. He told me he didn’t really want to manage people or edit stories anymore, but that he did enjoy writing his column. That’s when I came to Barron’s to manage and edit. Fortunately for me, forBarron’s and for our readers, Alan kept writing his column for the next 20 years, week in and week out, always with gracious prose, sharp insights and a hilarious sense of humour.

Alan’s quest for truth and justice greatly enriched the traditions begun by Clarence Barron, who bought Dow Jones & Co. in 1902 and founded this magazine in 1921. A year earlier, Clarence Barron’s stories had exposed Charles Ponzi, the Boston swindler who gave rise to the phrase “Ponzi scheme.”

In 2001, thanks in large part to editors who trained under Alan, Barron’s published the first major story that questioned the investment claims of Bernie Madoff. Seven years later, Madoff was charged by the government and proved to be the Ponzi of our era.

Now is the time to salute Alan and to rededicate ourselves to carrying on his mission. If you would like to contribute a remembrance or tribute to Alan for publication in next week’s issue, please leave a comment below (subscription required), e-mail us at[email protected], or write to us at Barron’s, 1211 Avenue of the Americas, New York, N.Y., 10036.

–Ed Finn 
Editor and President 

Here’s a link to one of Alan’s last columns, which ran in February >

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