Marshall Loeb, Managing Editor at Money, Fortune, Dies at 88

  • His journalism career spanned more than half a century
  • He elevated the practice of personal-finance writing

Marshall Loeb

Source: Bettmann via Getty Images

Marshall Loeb, whose name became synonymous with personal-finance reporting during a career that spanned more than half a century and included stints as managing editor at Money and Fortune magazines, has died. He was 88.

He died Dec. 9 in Manhattan, the New York Times reported, citing his daughter, Margaret Karen Loeb. The cause was Parkinson’s disease.

Loeb found his journalistic niche after joining Time Inc., the company behind both magazines, in 1956. He covered business and finance, as well as politics, for 24 years at Time magazine before taking charge of Money.

Money became one of the fastest-growing U.S. consumer magazines during his tenure. Fortune won its first award for general excellence from the American Society of Magazine Editors after he moved there.

“Operating in a profession that is incorrigibly pessimistic, he was a man of relentless optimism, with a sunny faith in America and its great institutions,” journalist Joseph Nocera wrote in “A Piece of the Action,” his 1995 book about the growth of the personal-finance industry. Nocera is now a Bloomberg View columnist.

Loeb also produced radio reports, syndicated columns and books on personal finance. The emergence of the Internet allowed him to keep working well after many of his peers had retired. He wrote columns for Marketwatch.com, a business and financial news website, and Quicken.com, a site associated with Intuit Inc.’s Quicken personal-finance software.

Kept Busy

“I would like to be able, as long as I can, to do something in journalism to stretch my mind and to make a contribution,” he told a business-journalism history site during a 2009 interview.

Marshall Robert Loeb, the only child of Monroe Harrison and Henrietta Benjamin Loeb, was born May 30, 1929, in Chicago and raised on the city’s west side. His father ran a small business that tore down old buildings and salvaged the contents.

Loeb got his first professional journalism experience at 15, when he earned $2 a week by writing high-school sports stories for neighborhood newspapers. He studied at the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism and graduated in 1950.

After receiving his degree, Loeb went to Germany, where he attended the University of Goettingen for 18 months and then searched for journalism work in Europe.

Foreign Correspondent

The United Press International news service hired him as a Frankfurt-based correspondent. He stayed there until 1954, when he married Elizabeth Loewe, a flight attendant for Pan American World Airways.

In 1955, he became a city reporter at the St. Louis Globe Democrat. His four-decade stint with Time Inc. started the next year when he joined the company’s namesake magazine as a business writer.

“They asked me if I knew anything about business and I said, ‘Oh sure,’” he told the Omaha World-Herald in a 1996 interview, though he didn’t know a stock from a bond.

Loeb learned the subject well enough to become the magazine’s business editor. He then was named national editor, and oversaw coverage of the 1960 presidential election and the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Running Money

Time moved him back into the business section, first as economics editor and then as a columnist, before naming him as Money’s managing editor in 1980. He succeeded William Rukeyser, who had run the magazine since its 1972 introduction.

Loeb started a series of special issues, covering topics such as individual retirement accounts, along with mutual-fund and stock rankings and other innovations. Circulation increased 70 percent, to 1.4 million a month, in his four years at Money.

From 1984 to 1986, Loeb worked as an editor in Time Inc.’s magazine-development group. Time then named him managing editor at Fortune, where he also replaced Rukeyser.

At Fortune, he expanded coverage to include stories about the lives of executives and social issues affecting business. The magazine received its general-excellence award in 1988, two years after he took the job. He served as the magazine-editor society’s president from 1988 to 1990.

Syndicated Columnist

Loeb stepped down in 1994, when he reached Time Inc.’s mandatory retirement age of 65 for top editors. For the next two years, he stayed at Fortune as an editor at large and columnist. He also wrote “Your Money,” a column syndicated to newspapers.

The Columbia Journalism Review, a magazine affiliated with Columbia University and targeted toward professional journalists, hired him as its managing editor in 1996. He spent 2 1/2 years in the job before leaving to join MarketWatch.com Inc. The news website, now a unit of News Corp., was affiliated with CBS Corp. when he started writing “Marshall Loeb’s Daily Money Tip” and a weekly column. CBS’s radio network carried “Your Dollars,” a radio report he introduced in 1980.

“Marshall Loeb’s Money Guide,” a personal-finance book, was published in 1983. Updated editions came out each year from 1985 to 1995. He also wrote “Marshall Loeb’s Lifetime Financial Strategies” in 1996 and “52 Weeks to Financial Fitness” in 2001.

The Gerald Loeb Awards, named for an unrelated financier, honored him in 1974 for a feature on Saudi Arabia’s King Faisal. The story also won a John Hancock Award. He received a lifetime-achievement Loeb in 1996 and another career-related award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers in 1998.

Loeb’s wife, known as “Peggy,” died in 2010. In addition to Margaret, the couple had a son, Michael.

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