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Obituary Stories

Tribune-Review Editor Jim Borden remembered as passionate journalist

Debra Erdley
| Monday, May 14, 2018, 8:12 p.m.
James Borden was managing editor of the Tribune-Review.
Sean Stipp | Tribune-Review
James Borden was managing editor of the Tribune-Review.

Jim Borden had a passion for justice, a heart for the underdog and an unquenchable intellectual curiosity.

The combination led him to go into journalism and move from city to city, practicing his craft for newspapers in Spokane, Wash.; Coeur d'Alene, Idaho; Colorado Springs, Colo.; and Kalamazoo, Mich., before he landed at the Tribune-Review in April 2011.

"He was really motivated to help the underdog. I think that's what made him go into journalism. He always wanted to expose the bad guys and protect the little guys," said Borden's wife, Blithe Brouwers.

James Borden, 61, of Greensburg, managing editor of the Tribune-Review, died Monday in UPMC Shadyside of complications of cancer.

Borden spent much of his childhood in Victorville and Apple Valley in Southern California's High Desert, about 90 miles northeast of Los Angeles. A graduate of the University of Idaho, Borden loved hiking and biking through the great outdoors.

"He absolutely loved the grandeur of the mountains, lakes and big trees," Brouwers said.

He leaves behind many heartbroken friends and colleagues who flourished under his leadership.

"Jim was incredibly passionate about this business and a true professional in every sense of the word. Nothing made him happier than mentoring young reporters and seeing them grow as journalists and as people," said Tribune-Review Executive Editor Susan K. McFarland. "It has been my privilege to work with him during the last several years, but it has been an even greater privilege to be his friend."

Trib Total Media President and CEO Jennifer L. Bertetto shared similar sentiments.

"Always focused and professional, Jim had a way of inspiring everyone around him to do their very best work. Demanding, patient, thoughtful, committed and passionate are just a few of the words I would use to describe him. He cared deeply about his staff, the readers of the Tribune-Review and the communities we serve," she said.

Tribune-Review reporter Aaron Aupperlee worked for Borden as an intern in Kalamazoo and later followed him to Pittsburgh. He said the slim, soft-spoken editor inspired him to reach higher and work harder.

"Jim had an unquenchable curiosity. His story ideas sent me places I would have never ventured. His questions forced me to dig deeper in my reporting. His edits made me a better journalist. Jim helped me get my start in journalism, and he was there to keep me inspired and curious."

Mickey Ciokajlo, who worked with Borden in Kalamazoo, recalled his former boss as "a good leader, always composed, a class act and the smartest guy in the room."

Friends from across the country weighed in on Facebook. Tom Roeder of Colorado Springs was among those saddened to learn of Borden's death.

"A toast to one hell of a newsman. Jim Borden, designer of stunning pages, deliverer of sage advice and master of corny puns. … He was a great dad, a faithful friend and a dedicated devotee to this marvelous, if self-destructive, industry we're in. … Hoist one tonight for Jim," Roeder wrote.

Borden took great pride in knowing his daughter, Alison Borden, followed him into the trade as assistant city editor at the Denver Post.

"Everything I know, I learned from him. He was the best," she said.

Borden was over the moon in smiles when his daughter gave birth to his first grandchild, a daughter, Sagan, last year.

In addition to his daughter, Borden is survived by two sons, Lowell, also of Denver, and Christopher, of Los Angeles.

Patric Zarkowski, who worked with Borden in Kalamazoo, recalled how his former managing editor returned to visit friends there in early March.

They knew Borden was sick. But Zarkowski said Borden was upbeat about his prospects, smiling as he passed around pictures of his granddaughter.

"Even then, all he wanted to know is what's going on with you. He said, 'Don't worry about me; they've got experimental drugs.' That's just how he was," Zarkowski said.

Brouwers said her husband had hoped to become a special court appointed special advocate, or CASA volunteer, for abused children and those in the foster care system.

"He still had a lot of living to do, but he wasn't afraid to die. I think he felt good about his life," she said.

Funeral arrangements will be announced later.

Debra Erdley is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 412-320-7996 or derdley@tribweb.com or via Twitter @deberdley_trib .

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