LEWISTON — David Ehrenfried was a journalist through and through.

Back in the day when he was in charge of news at the Sun Journal, he worried constantly over the coverage of breaking events, even in his private time.

“We used to stop at the newspaper on our way back from church so he could check the news wires,” Ehrenfried’s daughter, Sally, said. “He wanted to make sure the newspaper wasn’t missing anything big.”

Nobody who ever worked with the man is surprised by that story. Not even a little bit.

Ehrenfried, a fixture in the Sun Journal newsroom for more than 40 years, died this week. He was 84.

“When I came aboard the Sun Journal in 1971 as a proofreader, Dave was the captain of the ship, a quiet, competent and gracious leader for the newsroom,” said Mary Delamater, still a copy editor at the newspaper. “There were all personality types, a wide range of ages and ability levels and plenty of attitude to go around, so he had a lot to contend with at times. But whatever the situation, Dave kept a quiet demeanor and a steady hand to steer us through calm or stormy seas.”

It was 1956 when Ehrenfried went to work for the Sun Journal, first as a reporter and then as an editor for the Lewiston Daily Sun. In that role, Ehrenfried had complete supervision over the morning newspaper.

Over the following decades, Ehrenfried would serve as assistant executive editor of the combined Sun-Journal and Sunday newspapers. Later, he would take on the role of the newspapers’ ombudsman, serving as a direct link between the paper and the readership.

“Dave was our adult supervision, keeping things in line to make sure we somehow made deadline,” said Joe Gromelski, a former Sun Journal editor now working in the D.C. area. “Totally unflappable, a true professional. But he also had a great sense of humor, and played a mean game of golf.”

Before retiring, Ehrenfried would serve in a multitude of other editorial capacities, including editorial writer, editorial page editor and city editor.

“He took his responsibilities very seriously,” Delamater said. “He was a stickler for accuracy and fairness in news coverage, and he encouraged everyone who worked with him to do the same. And he wanted the Costello family to be able to trust him and depend on him to get the very best paper we could produce to the readers on time.”

Rick Denison, a former editorial writer who worked with Ehrenfried, recalled the older man’s knack for finding just the right voice in a piece of writing.

“He had a good ear,” Denison said. “I’d sometimes run a couple of versions of a sentence or paragraph past him to see which he thought was better, and his comments were always on the money… One of those people it’s good to have around a newsroom.”

Ehrenfried received a first-place award for editorial writing from the New England Associated Press News Executives Association. He was active in that organization as well as an officer of the New England Society of Newspaper Editors, serving a term as president.

“He was very proud of the work he did with the newspaper,” said Ehrenfried’s widow, Evelyn. “He was very dedicated to it.”

As news of Ehrenfried’s passing began to circulate, people spoke of his wisdom and expertise, his professionalism and that dedication to the job at hand.

“Old school,” said Denison, when he heard the story about Ehrenfried’s post-church newspaper stops. “That was Dave.”

“I enjoyed working with Dave through the years,” said Sue Levasseur, who worked with Ehrenfried in the Sun Journal newsroom for 30 years. “Loved his dry humor and welcomed his wisdom when I had questions. I’ll miss him.”

Some also spoke of golf, more of Ehrenfried’s love of the game than his prowess.

According to his obituary, “He held a great fondness for the game of golf, belonging at one time or another to Fairlawn, Poland Spring, Martindale, Augusta and Springbrook golf clubs. He also was a member of the Maine Seniors Golf Association.”

Ehrenfried and his wife, Evelyn, whom he married in 1966, had one daughter, Sally. Her father didn’t nudge her into the field of journalism, Sally said, but she likes to think she inherited some of his skills nonetheless.

“He used to edit my papers in high school,” Sally said. “I have a tendency to think that I write like a reporter.

“He was an awesome dad,” she said. “He was one in a million.”

After he retired from the newspaper in the late ’90s, Ehrenfried substitute taught in the Lewiston school system and spent many days in the Special Education rooms at McMahon School where he enjoyed time with the children.

It comes as no surprise to Delamater that Ehrenfried spent the second half of his life teaching others.

“My work ethic and enthusiasm for bringing news to our communities every day is due in part to the example Dave Ehrenfried displayed and instilled in me during the early years of my career,” she said.

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