Chairman's Letter

updated 09/07/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/07/1987 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Henry Grunwald's career reads like the script of a Frank Capra movie. At 15, he fled his native Vienna after the Anschluss swept Austria into Hitler's Reich. He honed his English in movie theaters while attending New York University and started at TIME as a copyboy. Now at retirement age, he is stepping down as editor-in-chief of Time Inc., only the third person in 64 years to hold this position.

Right from the start Grunwald attracted notice. His first boss at TIME remembered him as "driven, willing to work terribly hard." Others soon noted what graced that drive: a capacious intellect, an incisive wit and a consistent ability to turn out elegant, exact prose. His ascent was rapid, and he became managing editor in 1968. Grunwald transformed TIME. He instilled new depth and vitality in the formula developed by Henry Luce and Briton Hadden.

As editor-in-chief since 1979, Grunwald brought that same spirit of disciplined creativity to our six magazines. Always in search of new trends, new perspectives and new ideas, he remained a prose purist who would settle for nothing less than the best-written and best-designed magazine possible.

He was equally demanding with staff. Only the best would do. One of them, Jason McManus, succeeds Grunwald as editor-in-chief. McManus was reporting for TIME'S London bureau in 1958 while still a Rhodes scholar at Oxford University. He was the magazine's first Common Market bureau chief, and has served in a wide range of editorial positions, including TIME managing editor and deputy to the editor-in-chief.

Ray Cave will be Time Inc.'s new editorial director, the second highest editorial position in the company. Cave came to SPORTS ILLUSTRATED in 1959 and rose to executive editor. He was managing editor of TIME from 1977 to 1985.

History often takes a long time to pass final judgment on a career. In Grunwald's case the verdict is in. Acknowledged as one of the most influential presences in American journalism, he was a vigorous practitioner of the policy we at Time Inc. call "church and state." By this we mean the traditional freedom of our writers and editors to describe the world as they see it, without interference from the business side.

Grunwald is now being considered as U.S. Ambassador to Austria. In his tenure as editor-in-chief, he worked hard at improving the quality of our magazines, ensuring their continued leadership in their separate fields. Under McManus, this legacy of excellence will endure.

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