Jayne Marie Speizer, the first publisher of Neighbors, a publication of The Fresno Bee, died Monday at Stanford University Hospital after battling complications following a May 24 heart transplant.
Mrs. Speizer was 61. She came to The Bee in 1985 after working for other newspapers for 10 years. She started Neighbors in 1987 and was publisher of The Bee's community newspapers, including The Clovis Independent and Vida en el Valle.
In 1995, Mrs. Speizer added the duties of administrative director to oversee The Bee's production, human resources and finance departments.
Ray Steele, former publisher of The Bee, recalled that Mrs. Speizer "was passionate about the newspaper business. She had a strong will to make it successful. She cared about the newsroom and about the employees."
Mrs. Speizer's love of golf lead to employee tournaments. "She made work fun," Steele said.
"Jayne pushed her staff to ask better questions, to write better stories and to be better people," said Carey Norton, editor of The Bee's custom publications, who worked with Mrs. Speizer at Neighbors.
Mrs. Speizer "insisted on professionalism. She wanted the best, and she inspired the best," Norton said. "More than that, though, she was a friend we could count on, every time. She made the staff feel more like a family than a group of reporters, editors, artists and salespeople. She will be missed."
Mrs. Speizer was in the first class of Leadership Fresno, a training program for community leaders sponsored by the Fresno Chamber of Commerce, in the late 1980s. She also served on the nonprofit Radio Bilingue board of directors and on the Fresno County Juvenile Justice Commission.
In 1994, Mrs. Speizer was named Woman of the Year by the Fresno Chapter of Business and Professional Women.
In 1996, Mrs. Speizer left Fresno to become publisher of The Herald, a McClatchy Newspapers publication in Rock Hill, S.C.
Mrs. Speizer left McClatchy in 2003 to become publisher of the Monterey County Herald. She left the paper in 2007.
"There was no doubt that she was the heart of the Herald while she was here," said Joe Livernois, executive editor.
Mrs. Speizer had a serious heart condition for the past six years and in February was placed on Stanford Hospital's transplant list. At the time, she called the wait for a new heart "an emotional and challenging journey for us."
Mrs. Speizer's husband, former Bee reporter and editor Irwin Speizer, said in a message to family and friends, "Her journey is over. There is great sadness and emptiness."