Jane Clifford Mickler, who was Family editor at The San Diego Union-Tribune for 17 years and cared as fiercely about her readers as her own family, died Thursday of colon cancer, her family said.
She was 69.
From 1992 until 2009, Clifford Mickler – whose bearing was no-nonsense, funny and compassionate — wrote a regular column called “Family Ties” about her own brood that could have been called “Modern Family” long before the TV show of that name.
She also taught journalism at Point Loma Nazarene University for 12 years before she moved to Florida in 2012. There, she taught journalism at the University of North Florida in Jacksonville and at Flagler College in St. Augustine, where she lived.
Her students were subjected to a regular litany of current events and grammar quizzes, writing assignments in which she gently but firmly edited their work, and a propensity of constant encouragement to “keep at it.”
At the U-T, “Jane always pushed herself and the people who worked with her to produce the finest stories and sections possible,” said Jack Reber, formerly an assistant managing editor at the Union-Tribune.
After graduating from the University of Florida in 1979, Clifford Mickler started out in television journalism as an anchor and reporter for WJXT in Jacksonville. It’s also where she met her husband, producer and director Randy Mickler, who was with NBC San Diego for 29 years. Mickler died in 2009.
“Jane was one of the most honest, down-to-earth people I’ve ever known,” said Tom Wills, anchor at WJXT who worked with Clifford Mickler. “Her laugh was one of the most infectious laughs I’ve ever heard. As a journalist, her middle name was conscientious. She would agonize over whether her story was fair to all involved. What an inspiration she must have been to the students she taught.”
When he took the job in San Diego, she became a reporter for The Daily Transcript, then The Evening Tribune. She was named Family editor after the Tribune and The San Diego Union merged in 1992.
“Jane’s writing was a North Star for the community and she brought that same empathy and love and joy to her family and friends,” said Gail Vetter Levin, a longtime friend who is a trustee of the San Diego Public Library Foundation, and a CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) at Voices for Children.
“Her laugh was loud and infectious. Her kindness was quiet and constant,” Vetter Levin said.
“She had extraordinary energy for things that mattered, and nothing mattered to her more than friends, family and, especially, her children, grandchildren and beloved Randy.”
In one of Clifford Mickler’s columns, she interviewed the author of a book called “The Blessing of a Skinned Knee,” and wrote about a familiar worry for many parents, including herself: competition faced by their children to get into college and stressful admissions tests.
“It’s uncomfortable to face the reality that we, who only want the very best for our children, may have contributed to their stress, their demanding nature, their belligerence, their materialism,” Clifford Mickler wrote. “Our job is to do what is necessary so these children will be able to live happy, productive lives. Our job is to stop living their lives for them, reliving our lives through them.”
Her home was a place for family, but also for other ardent Florida Gators fans – she never missed watching a game — as well as for teens in San Diego Junior Theatre. She hosted many pre- and after-show gatherings, with her two youngest children active in the theater group.
“Jane saw life as an adventure and she took us all along,” said Vetter Levin.
“If you asked Jane to bring something to a party — she was a great cook! — she would often arrive with the ingredients. The assembly was big and noisy and messy, but when it was done, it was delicious and unforgettable, and you had been part of it.”
Survivors include her four children, Angela Sears Musgrove, Shannon Sears, Ryan Mickler and Lauren Tostenson; their spouses, Frank Musgrove, Allison Mickler and Tyler Tostenson; five grandchildren; and one great-grandchild; sisters Nancy Purvis and Patty Gibson; her in-laws, Marilyn and Joe Mickler; and seven nieces and nephews.
Services are scheduled for 9 a.m. Monday at Cathedral Basilica of St. Augustine in St. Augustine, Florida, and a celebration of life will be held later this summer in San Diego.