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Obituaries161 Obituaries Stuart Berg Flexner, a member of the Dictionary Society, died on 3 December 1990 at a hospital near his home in Greenwich, Connecticut. He was an active contributor to the Field of lexicography, author of books on many aspects of the language, lecturer, teacher, and consultant. We will miss his presentations and his counsel at our meetings of the Society no less than his substantial contributions to lexicography. Stuart studied English literature and linguistics at the University of Louisville, graduating summa cum laude. He published his first scholarly monograph, "A Glossary of Racetrack Terms," at the age of 16. He continued his education at Cornell University, where he taught for a short while, but soon found himself moving toward a career in editorial work and publishing. He left teaching to spend six years developing a series of books for the Mexican National Board of Education plan to combat illiteracy in that country, writing and editing books on nutrition, health, biography, and Mexican history . In 1960 he was co-author (with Harold Wentworth) and editor of the first edition of The Dictionary of American Slang. He was Managing Editor of the college textbook department of the Macmillan Company. Hejoined Random House in 1964 as a senior editor, becoming managing editor of the dictionary department in 1967 and Vice President of the Reference Division in 1968. During this time, Stuart not only served as a Senior Editor of the first unabridged edition of the Random House Dictionary of the Engluh Language (1966) of which Jess Stein was Editor-in-Chief, but wrote two books—How to Increase Your Word Power and The Family Word Finder. Stuart left Random House in 1972 seeking more time to write and lecture . During the next few years he wrote / Hear America Talking ( 1976) and Listening to America (1982). He worked as Senior Editor of the Oxford American Dictionary and helped reviseMarch's Thesaurus and Dictionary. His reputation as a major contributor to the lexicography ofAmerican slang was given a special boost when William Safire called him "The King of Slang" on the dustjacket of Stuart's Listening to America—a reputation all of us in this Society already knew of. No slouch about calling the shots as he sees them, Safire spoke for many when he called Stuart Flexner's / Hear America Talking a "masterpiece of cultural history, excitingly laid out and illustrated, that slams home the point 162Obituaries that spoken English, especially the words considered nonstandard . . . , is the wellspring of American expression." In 1980 Random House asked him to return, and in 1982 he became Editor-in-Chiefofthe dictionary department where he assumed responsibility not only for developing the second unabridged edition of the Random House Dictionary ofthe English Language (1987), but for numerous other dictionaries and reference works, including Spanish, French, German, Italian, and Russian dictionaries. And Stuart demonstrated his broad interests again, in part, by editing The New International Bartender's Guide and Eat Smart The Random House Guide to Diet and Nutrition. Beginning in 1981 and continuing through the beginning of 1990, Stuart Flexner cultivated a devoted following among listeners on approximately 200 radio stations in the U.S. and Canada through a syndicated feature , "The Random House Dictionary Word for the Day." His pleasant voice, warm sense of humor, and fascination with the many aspects of words and language were truly contagious, as reflected in the volume of mail and telephone calls his popular program generated. Stuart was one of those editors who made sure that he and his staff would watch for and glean from as many reliable sources as possible those expressions , words, and meanings that were entering the language. He maintained close relations with the developing DARE project as well as with the Dictionary ofOld English project in Toronto to be sure that the Random House dictionaries would incorporate their latest findings. He was an oft-quoted authority in Safire's essays for the New York Times Sunday Magazine section and he acted as the major American consultant for the nine-part BBC and PBS television series of Robert McNeil's The Story ofEnglish. Leonore C. Hauck, Managing Editor of the Random House dictionaries , had this...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2160-5076
Print ISSN
0197-6745
Pages
pp. 161-163
Launched on MUSE
2012-04-04
Open Access
No
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