reporter, Detroit Free Press
James S. Pooler joined the Detroit Free Press in 1923 as an office boy before graduating from the University of Detroit.
He was one of five Free Press reporters who earned a Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for deadline coverage of an American Legion parade in Detroit. In 1945, he shared in the paper’s second Pulitzer for exposing corruption in state government.
His series on juvenile delinquency in the 1940s prodded officials to create and provide programs for teens.
But Pooler was best known for using his deft touch as a feature writer to make people, places and events come alive for readers. His gift for taking time to listen to people and see stories others had missed made him a reader favorite for more than 40 years.
Staffers said Pooler could handle any kind of assignment. “If they want a tearjerker, something funny, an arty piece, a hard-hitting column or a meaty news story, Pooler can deliver,” recalled one editor.
Pooler’s talent also got readers to pitch in, whether to help a fatherless family facing eviction or to help bring Christmas to the needy. Over the years, a reprint of his column helped the Free Press raise millions of dollars for a children’s clothing charity.
Pooler also aided a new generation of young journalists and student leaders as a longtime advisor and friend to the journalism program at the University of Detroit in the 1950s and early 1960s.
His last story for the paper appeared less than a month before his death.