Harriet Jane Cummins, Former Newsday Reporter, Editor Dies At 70

Former Newsday reporter and editor Harriet Jane Cummins, better known as HJ, who devoted her life to reporting on family and the changing dynamics of the workplace, died last week at age 70.

Cummins was a journalist for over 30 years at various publications across the country. She traveled the world in search of her own background, conducting interviews for content that would later become a book about her mother.

Cummins was a reporter and editor for Newsday and New York Newsday from 1989 to 1996 before serving on the Minneapolis Star Tribune for 13 years. She worked as a semi-retired freelance writer for the past ten years.

She died Nov. 13 after a sudden illness, her daughter Leah Stanton said.

“She was always very active and believed in the power of journalism to expose things and educate people,” said Stanton. “She wanted to share important information after she came of age during the Vietnam War, when the government hid a lot of things and the journalism revealed a lot of things. Every day was new and different, talking about a new story and talking to a new people. always loved to read and write and had a passion for journalism.”

Born in Oklahoma in 1951, Cummins traveled across the country with her father, who was in the military, living in South Carolina and Louisiana before settling in Seward, Nebraska, where she grew up and completed high school.

She received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Nebraska and her master’s degree in English Literature from Creighton University in Omaha.

She worked for the Fort Myers News-Press and the Omaha World Herald as an architecture columnist before moving to Long Island with her husband, Timothy Anderson, who worked at Newsday. She taught as an adjunct professor at Stony Brook University before joining the Newsday division as a reporter, editor, and columnist.

Cummins switched to the Star Tribune in 1996 and also published a book in 2006 about her mother’s life after she fled Nazi Germany.

Her book “My Mother’s Daughter” revealed her mother’s past and her life during and after World War II. She traveled to Germany several times, including a fellowship, to explore her past and the emotional effects of fleeing the war.

“My mom was fascinated by that part of her history. She felt that sense of belonging growing up and what made her what she was,” Stanton said. “I think she liked finding out and understanding things.”

She moved to Virginia in 2009 to be closer to her only daughter and her grandchildren in the Washington DC area. She continued to freelance and edit and also taught English as a second language.

Relatives are planning a celebration of life next spring, but no immediate services are planned.

Cummins is survived by her daughter, Stanton in Reston, Virginia, and her two children. She is also survived by her sister Barbara Sieck in Edmond, Oklahoma, and Patricia Unger in Phoenix, Arizona; as well as her first husband Timothy Anderson in Lincoln, Nebraska, and her second husband David Hanners in Springfield, Illinois.


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