Nell and Wallace Crain, a couple who were featured in an Express-News Page 1A story and photo on “the secret to a happy marriage,” died between the writing of the story last summer and its publication in the San Antonio Express-News on Monday. The deaths were not mentioned in the report.
The Express-News apologizes to family and friends of the couple, and to our readers, for the egregious omission.
J. Michael Parker, who wrote the story after spotting and interviewing the Crains at North Star Mall last June, said he learned of their deaths Monday via an e-mail from a Crain family friend. The friend put Parker in touch with Cheryl Crain Sanders, the couple’s daughter, who was gracious in an e-mail to the reporter:
“Thank you for including my parents as an example of ‘love until death.’ The article was thoughtful and well written. ... Your article, while bittersweet to me, will be a great reminder to our family of their love and commitment.”
The couple’s daughter said Wallace Crain died the day before Thanksgiving last year and Nell Crain died Dec. 9. They had been married for 67 years.
Parker explained that he turned in his story to Express-News religion editor Arthur Santana late last summer. Santana said he edited the story, but essentially put it on hold until after the holidays. Two weeks ago, he gave the story back to Parker for updating. However, while he re-interviewed two other couples featured in the story, Parker did not seek new input from the Crains.
“I didn’t feel like Mr. Crain’s comments needed updating,” Parker said. “... They were such a sweet couple. They were what really made the story a story.”
It’s fitting I would see this today because, due to production deadlines, I had a story published today that included some very old news. Most journalists know the frustration of watching an editor hold onto your story so long that you feel the reason for writing the article has passed and worry your subjects have too. But to have that actually occur ... Here’s Parker’s story, with grace and peace to Crain family.