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Obituary: Henry Fuhrmann

Esteemed, influential journalist, teacher, mentor

Claremont resident Henry Fuhrmann, a retired Los Angeles Times editor with a national reputation as a wordsmith who advocated for fairness and accurate representation of race and gender in language, died September 14. He was 65.

Fuhrmann was born in Japan and raised in Ventura County. He earned his bachelor’s degree in journalism from Cal State L.A. and a master’s in journalism from Columbia University.

He was hired by the Times in 1991 as a copy editor and was promoted to a number of positions over the years, eventually becoming assistant managing editor for copy desks and standards in 2009. One of Fuhrmann’s most notable achievements was persuading the editors of the Associated Press Stylebook, a reference guide followed by journalists and other professional communicators and students around the world, to drop the hyphen in phrases describing a person’s ethnic heritage such as “Mexican American” or “Italian American.” The hyphen is unnecessary, Fuhrmann reasoned.

“These are full Americans — not some strange hybrid Americans,” he said at a 2018 editing conference in Chicago.

Fuhrmann also long advocated against using the term “internment” camps in referring to the detainment and forced relocation of Japanese Americans during World War II. He said prison camps or incarceration camps were more accurate terms.

He also rewrote the Times’ guidelines for how to refer to transgender individuals, doing away with the sorely outdated “transvestite” and allowing the use of “they” and “them” pronouns when that is an individual’s preference.

Fuhrmann left The Times in 2015 and was hired as an adjunct journalism instructor at USC. Last year he became editorial director of Bendable, an online learning platform through the Drucker Institute, an independent organization within Claremont Graduate University.

For decades and until his death, he stayed involved with ACES: The Society for Editing, and the Asian American Journalists Assn., mentoring many students and aspiring journalists.

He and his wife, Lindi Dreibelbis, who wed in 2016, moved from La Canada Flintridge to Claremont a few years ago. He delighted in exploring his new hometown, especially the Village. He could be seen on occasion walking his cat, Eddie, near their home on a leash or in a cat stroller.

Fuhrmann is survived by Dreibelbis; two daughters, Elena Fuhrmann and Angela Fuhrmann Knowles; stepchildren Kelly Arthur and Grant Arthur; and three siblings, Irene; David and his wife, Kim; and Glen and his wife, Maria.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be sent to the Richard S. Holden Diversity Fellowship (https://aceseditors.org/awards/richard-s-holden-editors-fellowship) or the AAJA/LA https://aaja-la.org/.

This obituary was written by L.A. Times digital morning copy desk manager Ruthanne Salido, and appears courtesy of the Times. Photo/courtesy of the Fuhrmann family.

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