Mary Jane "MJ" Bear, a friend and former colleague to many in the online news community (including here at NPR.org), is being remembered this afternoon at a funeral service in Des Moines.
MJ, who was 48, died Friday after a seven-month battle with leukemia.
Kinsey Wilson, NPR's senior vice president and general manager for digital media, calls MJ a "pioneer in online media." Part of that pioneering was her role in redesigning and overseeing NPR.org from 1996 to 2001. She was a founding member of the Online News Association and, most recently, an executive producer for Microsoft's MSN portals.
At MJ's CaringBridge.org webpage, her family writes today that:
"The effusive outpouring of love and support has been a source of strength to our family as we prepare for MJ's funeral today. Many of you have expressed an interest in making an online contribution to the 'MJ Bear Fund' at ONA (Online News Association). Please follow the link below for ONLINE contributions
"Those wishing to SEND CHECKS please follow instructions below.
"In lieu of flowers, the family requests that friends consider a donation to the Online News Association. MJ had expressed interest in creating an endowment to help aspiring young journalists. During her illness, she wrote this purpose statement for the endowment:
" 'To promote the voices of young professionals working in or training to work in the field of Online news by presenting programs at the Association's annual meeting, or in other venues. The programs will be designed to explore and showcase innovations, developments and new ideas in the field by sponsoring panel presentations, keynote talks or other appropriate formats.'
"The ONA is a 501(c)3 tax-exempt non-profit organization. Make checks payable to Online News Association, with a memo/notation on the check, 'MJ Bear Endowment Fund.' Mail to: Online News Association, MJ Bear Endowment Fund, P.O. Box 65741, Washington, D.C. 20035."