Mary Lou "Ludy" Forbes; June27, 2009

Mary Lou Werner started at the Washington Evening Star in 1944 as a seventeen-year-old copy girl. In 1959, she won a Pulitzer Prize for her coverage of the Virginia school crisis touched off by the state's determination to oppose school integration. "Integration anywhere means destruction everywhere, " Governor J. Linsay Almond, Jr. said in January 1958 in an inaugural speech reported by Werner in the Star.
Working under tremendous deadline pressure, since the Star was an afternoon paper with five editions coming out throughout the day, Werner reported on a series of state actions and court decisions that charted the course of the ultimately unsuccessful "massive resistance" campaign.
Recalling how she would be handed a court decision at ten o'clock or so in the morning and would immediately rush to a phone, she says, "Ninety percent of my stuff would be dictated, right off the top of my head. I guess there aren't many of us left who are used to doing that." Her stories show not just an ability to report accurately under deadline pressure, but also skill in explaining and interpreting events.

Thirty years later, as Mary Lou Forbes, she is now editor of the Commentary section of the Washington Times. A large, pleasant woman with swept back brown hair and a voice tinged with a good bit of her native Virginia, she conveys authority coupled with warmth and a sense of humor. She says she perceives her role at the Times, a conservative paper owned by an organization associated with the Rev. Sun Myung Moon, as providing readers with alternative perspectives to those they encounter in the more liberal Washington Post.

As for the name change, she says, she got married four years after winning the Pulitzer but it wasn't until the Star folded and she was called on to co-write the paper's obituary that she altered her byline to Forbes. By then, she had a son old enough to take pride in his mother's work. "I thought, 'This will be something he will cherish because it's his name," she says, adding with a laugh, "and here I am now living under an assumed name."

View: Washington Post Notice
View: Guestbook
View: Washington Times Death Notice

Photo: Washington Times
Attribution: Winning Pulitzers By Karen Rothmyer 

"I remember Ludy in so many wonderful ways--but mostly as a friend and mentor. I remember how welcome she made me feel as a expatriate from The Washington Daily News. We worked together for years. Damn, that was good. I will miss you Ludy and certainly never forget you. My condolences to the family." - Stan Felder, colleague and friend since 1972..

"Mary Lou was a kindly tower of strength not just for me but for a horde of others. As much as anyone, she made me -- a returning expatriate way back in 1964 after six or seven years in Europe -- welcome at The Star and to newspapering back in the United States. Later I worked with her in Commentary at the Times, and she was generous enough to use some of my pieces in her section. I will miss her very much."  - Stroube Smith

"DearJim, Shocked and saddened to hear of Ludy's death, Usually I keep in closer touch with her but failed this time due to perdonal health probs. I loved her (and your father too.) dearly and will miss her so very, very much. We were friends for more than 60 years. You have my deepest sympathy and love." - Mary Vaughan, Sarasota, Fl.

"Jim: Ludy and I were not close friends during my tenure at the Star or after. However, I remember her city desk editor, as I was in my first years there. During that period, she was most helpful in getting me started and headed in the right direction. She was certainly an unforgettable presence and I will fondly remember her that way. Please accept my condolences." - Roy Martin, Star '72-'78

Guestbook Entries from

July 05, 2009
One of the great ladies of American media - vast experience, good judgment, a lively mind, a consummate professional of great integrity. Where will America find her equal in the years ahead?
John McClaughry,
Kirby, Vermont

July 02, 2009
I worked with Ludy at both the Star and the Times, and I knew her well because I was in the sports department and she was a huge sports fan. She was a wonderful person, and I will keep her in my thoughts and prayers.
Dick Heller,
Silver Spring, Maryland

July 02, 2009
I have so many memories of Mary Lou from high school to the present as a classmate and 1942 graduate. I used to tease her that I was so proud to know a Pulitzer Prize Winner! She was a special friend and a great lady who will be sorely missed! The GW alumni picnic will not be the same with out her. My condolences to her family. Rest in Peace My Friend until we meet again!
Marjorie Harris,
Alexandria, Virginia

June 30, 2009
A great lady, a great writer-editor, a great laugher, a great colleague - devoid of snobbery or "side," her big fat heart embraced all equally and gladdened all who knew her.
Diana McLellan,
Washington, District of Columbia

June 30, 2009
Mary Lou, Thank you for nearly twenty years as my editor and even more as a friend. Through thick and thin you were always the most gracious and considerate person around, to say nothing about being a great newspaper woman. You will be sorely missed. My sincere condolences to family and friends, RIP,
Donald Devine,
Shady Side, Maryland

June 30, 2009
I am saddened to learn of Mary Lou's death. I remember her so well from our '42 class at G.W. Condolences to her family from Elaine Weil Weinberg.

June 30, 2009
Dear Ludy, you were a dedicated newswoman, loyal co-worker, great friend. Goodbye from all your friends and colleagues.
The Washinton Star Alumni

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