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Journalism Professor John Bremner Dies

July 31, 1987

LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) _ John Bremner, a retired journalism professor famed for his flamboyant classroom style, died Thursday at his home in Ponce Inlet, Fla., after a bout with cancer. He was 66.

Bremner taught reporting, editing and critical writing and conducted seminars at the University of Kansas and newsrooms around the nation.

″He was a master teacher of editing,″ said Mike Kautsch, dean of the university’s William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications. Lee Young, a professor of journalism who knew and worked with Bremner for 17 years, remembered Bremner as a ″delightful terror to students.″

At 6-foot-5, 260 pounds, Bremner cut a commanding figure in the classroom. He bellowed questions as he stalked around the room, seasoning his lectures with quotes from Robert Frost and the Bible, and often lamented having to teach students basic grammar.

When frustrated, he was known to stick his head out a window and wave a white hankerchief, shouting, ″Help me 3/8 They’re all idiots in here 3/8″

In his dedication to his book, ″Words on Words: A Dictionary for Writers and Others Who Care About Words,″ he thanked ″my students, who have been my crown and my cross, my joy and my sometimes tender torment.″

He concluded his last editing class in December 1985 with his traditional coda: ″Meanwhile, comma, peace, period.″

A native of Brisbane, Australia, Bremner received a bachelor of sacred theology degree from Propaganda Fide University in Rome in 1941, and continued his theological studies at All Hallows College in Dublin, Ireland. He was ordained a Catholic priest in 1943, and remained a priest for 24 years.

Bremner worked as a magazine editor, newspaper columnist and radio writer and announcer in Australia before coming to the United States in 1950. He earned a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University.

He taught at the University of San Diego and the University of Iowa, where he received a doctorate in mass communications in 1965.

In 1969, he came to the University of Kansas and in 1977 was named Oscar S. Stauffer Distinguished Professor of Journalism.

He received the HOPE award, given by university students to an outstanding educator, and the Distinguished Teaching in Journalism Award from the Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi.

Bremner also served as a consultant to the Gannett Foundation, teaching seminars at newspapers in 44 states and Washington.

He also authored ″HTK: A Study in News Headlines,″ published in 1972.

Bremner, who was to be buried Tuesday in Lawrence, is survived by his wife, Mary.

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