Pulitzer-winning journalist Jim Sheeler dies at 53

NEW YORK – Jim Sheeler, a former Rocky Mountain News reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize for his detailed and compassionate reporting on the families of Colorado soldiers killed in the Iraq war and the man responsible for briefing them, has died. Sheeler, who was also an author, was 53 years old.

Sheeler died last week at his home in Chagrin Falls, Ohio, according to Case Western Reserve University, where he taught journalism and media writing. The cause of death was not immediately determined, the school said on Wednesday. Sheeler’s 12,000-word “Final Salute” won the Pulitzer writing feature in 2006 and was developed into a book of the same name which received a National Book Award nomination two years later.

In 2016, Sheeler won the Case Western Carl F. Wittke Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

Sheeler was originally from Houston and majored in journalism at the University of Colorado and started out at Boulder Daily Camera. He wrote for the weekly Boulder Planet and the Denver Post before joining the Rocky Mountain News in 2004. Early in his career he often worked on obituaries and cited his experiences as a guide when he began writing about the war, which began in 2003, and its impact on the United States For a year, he followed U.S. Navy Major Steve Beck, whose job it was to inform families of the deaths of soldiers stationed overseas .

Pulitzer’s judges praised his “poignant story of a Marine major who helps the families of comrades killed in Iraq cope with their loss and honor their sacrifice.”

Sheeler’s books also included “Obit: Inspiring Stories of Ordinary People Who Led Extraordinary Lives” and he contributed to an obituary writing guide, “Life On the Death Beat”.

He is survived by his wife Annick and their son James.


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