What follows is the first in a series of profiles on the 12 people inducted into the Westfield Historical Society's 2019 Hall of Fame.
WESTFIELD, NJ – George Melloan and his late wife, Jody, were prolific writers throughout their careers but with the couple’s entry into the Westfield Historical Society’s Hall of Fame, it came time for Melloan to answer the questions and not ask them as the journalist is accustomed to doing.
George Melloan provided details of his wife's career as a freelance writer for magazines, including Horizon, Americana and American Way. Jody, who died in 2014, also wrote regularly for daily newspapers, including the San Francisco Chronicle, Miami Herald, Philadelphia Inquirer, The New York Times and the International Herald Tribune published in Paris.
Melloan worked at the Wall Street Journal for 54 years before retiring in 2006. Going back to his childhood in Indiana, he said his ambition was always to be a foreign correspondent. It is an aim he achieved, but not before earning his wings starting as a reporter in the Journal's Chicago bureau in 1952.
He had previously met Bernard “Barney” Kilgore, CEO of the Journal's parent, Dow Jones & Co. “I was delighted to land a job with a corporation headed by such a brilliant journalist, as would be borne out by the Journal's meteoric growth,” Melloan said.
After three years in Chicago and a four-year stint in Detroit, he took charge of the Journal’s Cleveland News Bureau and then took over the Atlanta Bureau in 1961, covering school desegregation and other civil rights issues in the south.
He spent only six months in Atlanta before being transferred to The Journal’s New York City headquarters to edit page one articles.
He and Jody bought a home in Westfield. In 1966, the Journal gratified his request for an overseas assignment, assigning him to the London Bureau.
“There were six of us to cover Europe, Africa and the Middle East,” Melloan said. Flying out of his London base, he covered the 1967 Six Day War in Israel, the Biafran War in Nigeria and an attempted economic reform in the Soviet Union, among other stories.
Jody and their three children, James, Molly and Maryanne, explored England’s ancient capital.
On one assignment, Melloan wrote about Soviet attempts to attract American tourists, the cold war notwithstanding.
He sampled a tour they were opening up to such exotic places in Central Asia as the ancient silk road cities of Samarkand and Bukhara.
In Tashkent, capital soviet Uzbekistan, his Russian hosts seated him across the table from two North Vietnamese editors, who vowed that Vietnam would never give up in their war with the U.S.
Melloan toured East African countries as well, including Cameroon and Liberia, where he covered missionary work.
Returning to the U.S. in 1970, he joined the Journal's editorial page staff. He was appointed deputy editor in 1973, anchoring the daily production of editorials.
In 1990, he moved to Brussels to supervise the Journal’s editorial pages in Europe and Asia and Launch a new foreign affairs column, “Global View,” which he wrote until his retirement in 2006. He continues to contribute op-eds and book reviews for the journal.
Jody had a long career as a freelance writer. In 1982, she wrote an article for Americana Magazine about a demonstration of open-hearth cooking at the Miller-Cory Museum in Westfield.
In addition to her prolific writings, Jody served on boards of the Westfield Foundation and the local library and was a Rescue Squad dispatcher. She won the Kenneth S. Gaston Award from the Friends of the Westfield Memorial Library in 1986 for heading a fund-raising drive to equip the Library.
Also in the 1980s, she organized and operated a management training night school program at Kean University.
During the Melloans' sojourn in Belgium in the 1990s, the two often traveled together. Jody wrote for a weekly English-language news magazine, The Bulletin, mostly about the gardens of Europe. She also wrote a column for the Indianapolis News.
On one occasion in 1990, Jody, George and Journal editor Robert L. Bartley all three wrote columns about a “Captive Nations” conference in Prague that drew dissidents from all the Soviet republics, foreshadowing the Soviet collapse in December of 1991.
George Melloan’s books consist of “The Great Money Binge” (2009), “On the Causes of the 2008 Crash,” "When The New Deal Came To Town" (2016) About The Consequences Of The 1929 Crash” and “Free People, Free Markets: How the Wall Street Journal Opinion Pages Shaped America” (2017).
In 1978, he and Jody co-authored “The Carter Economy,” an analysis of Jimmy Carter's first year as president that forecast some of the problems he would face.
Melloan has won the Gerald Loeb award for distinguished business and financial journalism; two Daily Gleaner awards from Inter-American Press Association for his coverage of Soviet influences in Central America; and the Barbara Olson award for excellence and independence in journalism from The American Spectator.
The 2019 Westfield Hall of Fame selection committee includes Sherry Cronin, Donald Mokrauer, Virginia Rorden, Gail Stock, Barbara Hale, Ginny Leiz, Lowell Schantz, Carol Tener, Glen Dumont, Nancy Humphrey and Chairperson Joan Lowell Smith.
The Westfield Historical Society established the Westfield Hall of Fame in 2008. Since 1968, the nonprofit Westfield Historical Society has worked to preserve interpret and encourage interest in history, Westfield, and its residents through educational efforts and community outreach programs.
For more information on the Westfield Hall of Fame, The Westfield Historical Society and their events, visit www.westfieldhistoricalsociety.org.