Family, friends, and colleagues are mourning the death of Alan Finder, a longtime editor at the New York Times, who died Tuesday from COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Finder was 72.
“I hope he knew how well regarded and well respected he was by so many colleagues, and how many people felt really strongly about him,” his daughter, Lauren Drucker, said in a phone call with BuzzFeed News on Wednesday. “His reach was much further and wider than his family really realized.”
Above all else, Drucker said her dad was a man of “integrity” who lived by a strong set of principles from which he never wavered.
“He definitely felt that putting others first was really important, and certainly valued family and friends, and I think he really showed an interest in people,” she said.
Finder loved music, books, and good food and wine. He liked to travel, attend concerts, garden, and work in the yard — “even though he complained about it a lot,” his daughter said.
“He thought of himself as somewhat of a gourmet chef. He really loved my mom a lot,” she added.
Finder was born and raised in New York, and he was known for his coverage of local news and politics at the New York Times. He officially retired several years ago but continued to pitch in some days at the newspaper.
In an email sent to the Times newsroom on Tuesday that was shared with BuzzFeed News, the Times’ executive editor, Dean Baquet, wrote that Finder was a “generous and patient colleague.”
“He was one of Metro's stars in the 1980s and 1990s, a big writer in a big, hugely competitive era for New York City news,” he said.
Baquet said in a phone call with BuzzFeed News that the Times held a Google Hangouts memorial for Finder that was joined by at least 100 people, many of whom shared memories of him as a giving mentor and friend.
“It's a reminder that the people we write about, the people we cover are human beings,” Baquet said Wednesday. “All of the obits we will no doubt publish, all tributes we will no doubt publish, that just brings home that the people who will be felled by this thing are human beings with people who care about them and love them.”
Dan Barry, a friend of Finder’s and a reporter and columnist at the Times, said in an interview with BuzzFeed News that Finder was a wealth of knowledge and that he never condescended when he shared his wisdom.
“He was kind of like this embodiment of all New York governance,” Barry said. “He would know all about rent stabilization, he would know about the budget — the city budget — he would know about the MTA, you know, all these bits and pieces of everyday municipal life that when put together explain how we navigate the world, you know what I mean? And he was that guy. Not everyone has that kind of expertise in any one of these subjects, but he had a kind of expertise of the entire mechanism that is New York City.”
Finder used to host a roundtable on NY1, a local TV channel, on which he would talk with other reporters about the news of the day. Years ago, Barry went through chemotherapy; he recalled how comfortable Finder made him feel on the show despite his changed appearance following the cancer treatment.
“Alan made me feel so welcome and made sure, you know, it was things as normal. In other words, nothing was abnormal about the moment other than how I looked,” Barry said. “I remember the grace with which he handled that made me feel good, and all my trepidation about appearing on TV looking like that went away once I sat down across from Alan.”
Jason Finder, Alan’s son, wrote on Facebook on Tuesday that his father “believed deeply in the power of the written word and the urgency of truth” and that he was “in many ways the consummate twentieth century newspaperman.”
“He could be long-winded, temperamental, and sometimes a downright pain in the ass, but he was as dedicated and loving a father as they come, and I will be forever grateful for the time we spent together, the many traits, passions, and values we shared, and the life he made possible for me and my family,” Jason wrote.
Michael Finder, Alan’s brother, also remembered him on Facebook, calling his brother his “idol.”
“He had Nana’s integrity and commitment to his family; Papa’s warmth and humor,” he wrote. “I cannot imagine life without him. … Our world, the world will be so much less rich without him.”
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