Former Travel Weekly editor First, 80, dies

NEW YORK -- Wesley First, a New York newspaperman who later served as editor of Travel Weekly, died Wednesday from complications related to Alzheimer's disease. He was 80.

First was a career newspaperman with a distinguished record in the daily newspaper field before joining Travel Weekly.

After attending the University of Michigan from 1937 to 1940, he returned to his hometown of Erie, Pa., to start his journalism career as a reporter and later city editor of the Erie Dispatch.

He came to New York in 1950 and joined the New York World Telegram, a leading afternoon daily, and rose through the ranks to become its managing editor. In 1960, he supervised the paper's Pulitzer Prize winning news coverage of the collision of two aircraft over New York City.

He joined Travel Weekly in 1969 as its editor.

He remained in that post until 1972, when he became an associate publisher. He later served in executive posts with Ziff-Davis Publishing Company, Travel Weekly's parent company at the time.

Following his retirement in 1982, he and his wife, Suzanne Lavenas, who survives him, traveled extensively and contributed articles to Travel Weekly and other publications.

First also is survived by a son, Michael, and a daughter, Karen Whittlesey-First, both of Chicago, five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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