In Memoriam: Jersey City’s Walter Dean Myers

Walter Dean Myers- Photo by Malin Fezehai

Jersey City made many great gains in 2014, but there was a deeply resonating loss in the passing of Walter Dean Myers. Though born in West Virginia and raised in Harlem, Myers made Jersey City his home for 30 years. In that time he wrote most of his more than 100 books.

Myers is primarily known as a best-selling and critically-acclaimed author of gritty young-adult novels (including National Book Award finalists Monster, Lockdown, and Autobiography of My Dead Brother). However, he was equally comfortable writing picture books, poetry, and non-fiction. In 2012, Myers was named the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, just one of the countless awards and honors garnered in his 45-year career.

In February of 2014, the Jersey City Independent published an article online by Nancy Méndez-Booth, based on her interview with Walter Dean Myers. She ran into and spoke with Myers again that April, during World Book Night at the New York Public Library. “The event celebrates reading and community building,” Méndez-Booth says, “two themes that were central in my profile.”

Though we lost Walter Dean Myers on July 1, 2014, his astounding body of work will continue to delight and inspire young people, in Jersey City and around the world. Myers was proud of Jersey City—proud of this community—and he laid out the guidelines for continuing creative success. It is up to all of us, young and old, to carry on his work.

Read our last interview with Myers: Land of Literary Opportunity: A conversation with Walter Dean Myers. More info on Walter Dean Myers and his published works is available at walterdeanmyers.net

This introduction and our original article appeared in the 2014 Fall/Winter issue of JCI Magazine. © Harmony Media, NJ. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced without written permission.

Featured photo: Malin Fezehai. Gallery photos courtesy of the Estate of Walter Dean Myers.

Jack Silbert

is a writer, editor, internet-radio DJ and occasional emcee. He is the author of several books and his writing has appeared in The New York Times, New York Press, New Jersey Monthly, Weird NJ, and other publications. Jack’s humorous ramblings can be found at Salt In Wound.