Journalist Mimi McLoughlin circles the world sharing stories

Such fun reconnecting with Kingswood classmates. I’ve introduced you to …

Merrill Mimi McLaughlinMeet another accomplished classmate: Merrill McLoughlin. I remember Mimi as the smartest girl in our class, a notion she pooh poohs. (Some of us actually won attention from head mistress Miss Goodale for reasons other than talking in study hall.)

Mimi wanted to be a doctor. Since she’d be immersed in science for her adult life, as an undergrad at Smith, she decided to broaden her horizons “while I had the chance.” She majored in religion. Raised Episcopalian, she wasn’t personally religious. Rather her interest was “intellectual curiosity about what people believe about life and how best to live it.”

Mimi’s study of Hindu philosophers shaped her future. After graduating, she couldn’t afford med school. To earn money, she went to work at Newsweek. “They were looking for a religion researcher. I was the only one interested in religion who’d ever walked in.” Turned out she loved it. “Journalism was like a continuation of school. I was still exploring.” And it came with a bonus.

Merrill Mimi McLaughlin and her husband Mike RubyAfter 6 years, a new chief economics writer showed up at Newsweek. He was “smart, handsome and athletic.” Mimi was “smitten on the spot.” She told a colleague, “I’m gonna marry him.” 6 years and 2 separations later, Mimi and Mike Ruby moved in together; 8 years after that, they were wed. They’ve been married almost 30 years.

Throughout, they’ve collaborated professionally. In 1986, Mort Zuckerman hired them away from Newsweek and NYC to work in Washington, D.C. at U.S. News & World Report. Eventually becoming co-editors, they ran U.S. News for the next decade. They supervised a worldwide staff and covered everything from medical breakthroughs in the U.S. to wars in the Persian Gulf to the growing Chinese economy. They met presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush 41 and Clinton.

Since the decline of print news magazines, Mimi and Mike both edit nonfiction books. Mike has ghostwritten books for Bill Richardson (former N.M. guv and presidential candidate) and Don Hewitt (founder and longtime producer of “60 Minutes.”)

Mimi’s first ghostwriting job was Sarah Brady’s memoir A Good Fight. Brady, whose husband Jim was badly wounded while serving as press secretary to President Reagan, became a prominent advocate for gun control.

Another fascinating subject was Alaskan Willie Hensley, aka Iggiagruk. Hensley, an Inupiaq, grew up along the north Bering Sea, 29 miles inside the Arctic Circle. As a boy, he lived in tarpaper or sod houses and survived on fishing and hunting. His adoptive father and pregnant stepsister died from eating spoiled pickled walrus flipper. (Now tell me. Where else can you read about pickled walrus flipper?)

“Willie almost single-handedly won money and land for Alaskan natives after statehood. He’s a hero in Alaska. Walking around Anchorage with him was like being with a rock star.” The title of their 2009 book, Fifty Miles from Tomorrow, refers to the village where Hensley grew up, 50 miles from the International Dateline.

Mimi and Mike live on a ranch in Cave Creek, north of Phoenix, AZ. They appreciate “a great extended family” but have no children of their own. “Alas, not by design.” For fun, they ride horses, hike, ski, scuba dive and devour movies. An avid reader, Mimi’s been rereading books she read years ago, like Advise and Consent.

Currently Mimi’s editing a collection of classmates’ biographical essays for her 50th reunion of Smith College. “Each essay seems like the nugget of a novel.” She’s also writing obituaries for classmates who’ve died.

“I realize how lucky many of us have been.”

So true, Mimi. Knocking on wood.

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