Publisher's Letter

updated 09/23/1991 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 09/23/1991 AT 01:00 AM EDT

FOR HOUSTON CORRESPONDENT ANNE Maier, reporting our cheerleader murder-for-hire ease (page 86) was a voyage into a bizarre psychological landscape. In communities like Channelview, Texas, the parameters of success often seem bounded by the chalk lines of the high school football field, and some people seem obsessed with winning—at any cost. For Wanda Holloway, the fear that her daughter, Shanna, might not make the Channelview Falcons' cheerleading squad literally became a matter of life and death.

Maier observes such Lone Star foibles with the compassion of a native. Born and raised in Houston, she graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1976 with a degree in journalism. She joined PEOPLE as a part-time researcher in 1981, moving up to correspondent two years later. These days her reporting is more sharply honed than ever. In 1986 Maier, a divorced mother of two boys, Max, 14, and Nicholas, 7, enrolled in the University of Houston law school, where she took courses at night. The next four years, she says, "I never had time to do anything but work—and work." Triumphantly, Maier received her law degree last year, and it has been opening doors for her ever since. "If people know you're an attorney, they think you're a better person to interview their client," says Maier, who plans—much to our relief—to continue in journalism.

On Sept. 6, award-winning photographer Curt Gunther, 66, died of heart failure in New York City. Gunther, who fled Nazi Germany in 1938, settled in New York, where he launched a career that spanned five decades. One of the founders of the prestigious Camera 5 agency, Gunther photographed some of the century's most celebrated personalities—from Marilyn Monroe to Michael Landon to Ronald Reagan. In 1964 he chronicled the Beatles on their first American tour, a journey immortalized in his recent book, Beatles '64: A Hard Day's Night in America. "Curt was a lovely man with a quick, understated sense of humor," says associate picture editor Holly Holden, who was also a friend. "He was an astute observer of human nature."

We are also sad to note the untimely death of Martin Sumner, 35, PEOPLE'S advertising finance manager from 1987-89, who died Aug. 16 in New York City from complications of AIDS.

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