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Issue Date:  February 17, 2006

Bernadette Hoyt, linked to NCR founding, dies


Bernadette Hoyt was a longtime activist in social justice and peace causes with a deep connection to the founding of the National Catholic Reporter.

She died Jan. 29 at the home of her son, Michael, in Teaneck, N.J., of colon cancer. She was 82.

Born Minneapolis, she moved with her parents to Iowa. She was editor of the newspaper at the two colleges she attended, Iowa State Teachers College and the University of Iowa, where she majored in journalism.

After college, she worked in Denver as a reporter for the National Catholic Register chain of weeklies. There she met Robert G. Hoyt, and they were married in 1947. The couple moved to Kansas City, Mo., with a handful of other young people and founded a newspaper, The Sun Herald, an attempt to publish a national daily newspaper that would cover news from a Christian perspective. The effort folded in just over a year, but the idea of an independent Catholic newspaper remained. In 1964, Robert Hoyt became the founding editor of NCR. The couple divorced in 1970.

Robert remarried and moved to New York. He died in April 2003.

Bernadette remained in Kansas City, where she raised the couple’s six children. She went on to work as religion editor for The Kansan newspaper in Kansas City, Kan., as the administrator of volunteers at St. Joseph Hospital in Kansas City, Mo., as community relations coordinator for the Kansas City, Kan., archdiocese and as director of community services for St. Joseph Home in Kansas City, Kan.

Much of her time was given to peace and justice activities. She was a regular at Sunday demonstrations in a prominent location in the city against the war in Iraq.

Hoyt was a founding member of Women Vision International of Prairie Village, Kan., dedicated to improving the lives of women and children in poor countries by lending them small amounts of money to start businesses. During her 70s, she traveled to Zimbabwe, the Dominican Republic and Colombia on behalf of the organization. She was a co-member of the Loretto Community. On the way to her new home in New Jersey in November, she journeyed to Fort Benning, Ga., to participate in the School of the Americas protest.

Michael Hoyt said of his mother, “She had a fierce spirit and brought a deep well of goodness to everything she did.”

She is survived by her children -- Michael, Timothy of Eskridge, Kan., Mary T. Durkin of Chicago, James of Tallulah, La., Mary Jo of Maplewood, N.J., and Anne Hoyt Scavone of New York -- and 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

National Catholic Reporter, February 17, 2006

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