JoLynne Van Valkenburg

Former Deseret Morning News copy editor and assistant city editor JoLynne Van Valkenburg, 60, died Saturday in Murray after surgery.

Ms. Van Valkenburg was born Feb. 21, 1947, in Salt Lake City. She grew up in Urbana, Ill., and graduated from Utah State University. She started her career in journalism at the Salt Lake Tribune and then joined the Deseret News staff as a copy editor in 1974. She was awarded the paper's Mark E. Petersen Special Merit Award in 1985 for special initiative, effort and creativity. She left the News in 1988 to teach in the journalism program at Brigham Young University, a post she held nine years.

Ms. Van Valkenburg went back to the Tribune from 1997-99 and then returned to the Deseret News in 1999, working as state editor and an assistant city editor until 2003.

Two of Ms. Van Valkenburg's three younger sisters followed her journalistic pursuits. Sister Kaye Van Valkenburg wrote a weekly food column for a Portland newspaper for 10 years, and sister Nancy Van Valkenburg was a reporter at the Deseret News and other papers before moving to the Ogden Standard-Examiner 10 years ago as a feature writer. All three credited their exposure to writing to their father, Mac Van Valkenburg, who wrote a number of engineering textbooks and penned a weekly family letter. "JoLynne was the first and the rest of us followed her," Nancy said.

During Ms. Van Valkenburg's tenure at BYU, she taught copy editing and was part of the faculty that mentored students at The Daily Universe on campus. Ed Carter, one of her students who is now a member of BYU's journalism faculty, remembers her requiring students to read the entire 400-plus-page Associated Press stylebook. "She taught us, 'You learn the rules and then you can break them — but not on tests,"' Carter recalls. "In the newsroom she was the hands-on practical person training the students."

Deseret Morning News copy editor Anne Ferguson said Ms. Van Valkenburg was always keen on word use and word play and was the best teacher she has ever encountered. "She taught me to be a copy editor. She was the kind of person that when you didn't understand something she could say a few words and make it suddenly clear."

Ms. Van Valkenburg found words to be "delicious," said her sister Kaye. "She always liked just putting a clever little spin on things," Kaye said. "She was always interested in poetry and writing."

Ms. Van Valkenburg's word play was abundant in letters carrying the salutation "Dear Sistern" that she would send her sisters and a few close friends.

Ms. Van Valkenburg's funeral will be 1 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 9, at Jenkins-Soffe Mortuary, 4760 S. State. Friends may call 6 to 8 p.m. the night before or an hour before the service. Burial will be in Murray City Cemetery. Remembrances may be sent to Best Friends Animal Society, 5001 Angel Canyon Road, Kanab, UT 84741 or