RIP: Julius Duscha, first Stanford PJF associate director

Julius Duscha, associate director of the Stanford Professional Journalism Fellowships in the program’s early years, died July 2 at his home in San Francisco. He was 90.

Duscha came to the PJF program from The Washington Post, where he was an editorial writer, reporter and national correspondent from 1958 to 1966. He recalled in an interview in 1998 that when he and founding director Herbert Brucker arrived at Stanford in late summer 1966 to run the program, the first group of fellows had already been selected by Communications Prof. Chilton “Chick” Bush. He and others noted that professional journalists were an oddity on the Stanford campus, but were generally accepted into classes and other learning environments.

“Julius was proof that one can be a first-rate, truth-seeking reporter and still be a gentleman and a gentle man,” said Mike Feinsilber, a PJF Fellow in 1966-67. He was in the first fellowship class at Stanford, with Duscha as associate director. “He was Minnesotan through and through — a great tale teller, a great listener, one with a twinkle in his eye.”

Duscha had been a Nieman Fellow at Harvard in 1955-56, so he was familiar with fellowship format. The Stanford program differed from Harvard in that fellows were in residence for only one or two academic terms, while Nieman Fellows were at Harvard the full academic year. The Stanford program eventually moved to yearlong fellowships in the mid-1970s.

Duscha said that within a couple of years he felt a yearning to return to Washington, and in early 1968 he went to the Washington Journalism Center, which he headed until his retirement in 1990. He was succeeded by Harry Press, who by coincidence had been a Nieman Fellow with Duscha.

Duscha was born in 1924 in St. Paul, Minnesota. He began his newspaper career in 1943 at the St. Paul Pioneer Press and Dispatch. He moved to Washington in 1947 and worked for Congressional Quarterly and an AFL-CIO publication before joining the Post in 1958. After his retirement from the Washington Journalism Center he moved to San Francisco. He is survived by his wife, Suzanne Duscha, and four children: Fred, Steve, Suzanne and Sally. His first wife, Priscilla, died in 1992.

A private memorial service will be held August 6, 2015.

The Stanford Professional Journalism Fellowships Class of 1967. Duscha is pictured in the top row, far right.