Former Journalist, U Of I Prof Jerry Landay Dies
By Sean Powers
Jerry Landay, a veteran journalist and former University of Illinois professor, has died.
“Jerry was a lion who roared,” said Jay Rosenstein, a Peabody and Emmy award winning producer, who was one of Landay’s students at the U of I.
“Jerry was an incredibly passionate, enthusiastic teacher who believed very, very strongly in the power of documentary as a means for social change,” he added. “I think his passion for documentary had a huge impact on really the future of my life.”
Rosenstein said he pays tribute to Landay at the end of each of his documentaries. The two worked together in the early 1990’s on a program for WILL-TV.
“Jerry was thrilled to have students excel in documentary,” said his wife, Sandy Chabot. “He had never taught before he came to the university, but he was really thrilled with the young students that he had and their futures.”
“Excellence in journalism was his passion,” she added, saying he cared a lot about bringing light to issues facing the underprivileged. “He was trying to make the world a better place.”
A child of the great depression, Landay talked in 2012 about his experiences growing up. As part of an on-air essay on Rhode Island Public Radio, he said he learned to appreciate what was in front of him.
"I learned that waiting and wishing for something were half the fun of finally getting it. Another lesson from the Great Depression was a single word - enough," Landay said. "I believe in 'enough.' That word has been my guide ever since. I try to be conscious of temptations, of instant gratification."
Landay was also the moderator of the WILL-TV news program called “Talking Point.”
Before coming to the University of Illinois in 1988 to teach journalism, Landay worked as a White House correspondent for ABC News during the Watergate Scandal, and he was the executive producer of “Why in the World?”- a kids program on PBS.
He also worked for a short time as the editor of Week in Review in the Sunday edition of the New York Times, and he was a correspondent for CBS News.
Landay died last week in Rhode Island with family around him. He was 83.