Ted Cron, 76; Editor, Public Affairs Executive, Koop Speechwriter

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Theodore O. "Ted" Cron, 76, who created three magazines during a 25-year career as a public affairs executive at six federal agencies, died Dec. 20 at his home in Somerset. He had amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease.

Mr. Cron came to Washington from New York City in 1964 to join the public affairs staff of the office of education in what was then the Department of Health, Education and Welfare.

He started the magazine American Education and revamped an outdated agency photo file that included only white children. He ran the press office at the White House Conference on Education in 1965.

When James L. Goddard became Food and Drug Administration commissioner in 1966, Mr. Cron served as assistant commissioner for education and information and as Goddard's principal speechwriter. He also established a consumer education program that was extended nationwide by consumer specialists in each of FDA's 18 district offices.

He started the monthly magazine FDA Papers and published it in color to help readers recognize pharmaceutical products and see how contaminants might affect foods.

He also spearheaded an affirmative action program that made the FDA one of the first federal agencies to actively promote more job opportunities for minorities.

After leaving the FDA in 1968, Mr. Cron joined a public relations firm in Washington, testified before congressional committees on health and consumer legislation and sued HEW to contest an announced Medicare premium increase. He contended that the department failed to provide an actuarial basis for the proposed increase and did not invite public comment on the issue.

Three years later, he returned to the federal government as publications director of HEW's Social and Rehabilitation Service, where he started Human Needs, a national magazine with inserts for each of the agency's 10 regions.

He served for a time as director of information of the Federal Trade Commission during the Carter administration.

In 1981, Mr. Cron became speechwriter for Surgeon General C. Everett Koop.

During the next eight years, he wrote 350 speeches for Koop, tackling such issues as AIDS, alcoholism, smoking, domestic violence and sudden infant death syndrome.

Mr. Cron left the Public Health Service in 1989 and joined the National Association of Elementary School Principals, where he set up pen-pal relationships between elementary schools in the United States and in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.

A prolific freelance writer and editor, he completed a novel, "Assignment: Istanbul" (2005), and was working on a second when he was stricken with ALS. Earlier, he co-authored a picture-and-text history, "Portrait of Carnegie Hall" (1966).

A native of Newton, Mass., Mr. Cron received a bachelor's degree in English and a master's degree in teaching in 1953 from Harvard University. He joined the Army that same year and married soon afterward. He was on active duty in Japan, then worked for the Army as a civilian for two years.

In 1957, he and his wife returned to the United States and settled in New York.

He worked for Scholastic for three years, serving as managing editor of its weekly classroom publication Practical English and then became editor of the trade periodical Overview, later renamed American School & University.

In Washington, Mr. Cron and his wife, Lee H. Cron, were among the founding members of Southwest Hebrew Congregation, which later became Temple Micah and relocated to Wisconsin Avenue NW. His wife died in 1998.

Mr. Cron was a founding member of the Temple Micah choir and sang with the group for 40 years. He also enjoyed creating pencil and ink sketches, watercolors and whimsical statuary.

Survivors include his wife, Suzanne Harris, whom he married last year, of Somerset; two children from his first marriage, Elizabeth D. Koozmin of Reston and Adam D. Cron of Allentown, Pa.; a sister; and three grandchildren.

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