A respected veteran journalist and former managing editor of the Portland Press Herald died this week from complications of multiple myeloma, a blood cancer, according to his family.

Curt Hazlett, who was retired, began working at the newspaper in the early 1990s. A resident of Cape Elizabeth, Hazlett died Tuesday at the Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough. He was 68 years old.

Curt Hazlett Deborah Flint

“Curt was a mentor and a friend,” said Steve Greenlee, the Portland Press Herald’s managing editor. “Not only was he one of the finest journalists I’ve ever worked with, but he was a decent human being. He was a brilliant editor, he had a great way with people, and he was funny as hell. He was an inspirational leader.”

Hazlett graduated in 1975 with a degree in journalism from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. He was named outstanding journalist in his class after serving as editor of the university newspaper.

His journalism career took off following graduation. Hazlett worked for the Plain Dealer in Cleveland and in Reuters’ Chicago bureau as a reporter, said his brother, Doug Hazlett of New Limerick.

He left the Midwest to work at the Boston Globe and was eventually recruited to be business editor at the Washington Post, according to his wife, Wendy Wallis. Wallis said she met Hazlett on a blind date while he worked at the Post, which he left in 1991.

Hazlett moved to Maine to take the business editor job at the Press Herald in the early 1990s. He was eventually appointed managing editor.

John Porter, now spokesman for MaineHealth, the parent of Maine Medical Center in Portland, was a reporter for the Press Herald and worked closely with Hazlett before Porter became editorial page editor.

“Curt didn’t come to Maine for a working vacation,” Porter said. “He came to work as a journalist.”

Porter remembers Hazlett as understated and quiet with a dry sense of humor, but fiercely devoted to the craft of reporting. He managed reporters skillfully with a subtle touch, blending empathy with being a top notch wordsmith, Porter said. Porter said he thought he grew as writer under Hazlett’s guidance.

“He got reporters to not take themselves too seriously amid all the chaos,” Porter said. “He always projected a sense of calm.”

Doug Hazlett said he admired his brother for his devotion to the pursuit of facts and the truth. He compared him to the late Walter Cronkite, and said he was not prone to political commentary or editorializing.

“He was always curious to get to the facts of a thing. He was a great linguist and was dogged in his pursuit of the truth,” Hazlett said. “He was focused on what he saw and what he learned. He was old school journalism.”

“Curt loved newspapers and news and was served well by good writing skills and a desire to know what was really going on, whether it be at city hall or at a house fire,” Hazlett’s family wrote in his obituary.

After retiring from the Press Herald, Hazlett did consulting work for several newspapers in the United States and abroad.

At Hazlett’s request there will be a private family service. Condolences and memories can be posted on Coastal Cremation Services website at coastalcremationservices.com.

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