Ann Cline, Longtime Washington Star Journalist & F.C. Native, Dies

Ann Cline, 87, a native of Falls Church and a longtime journalist at The Washington Star and one of the first women to work in its newsroom, died May 10 at the Collingswood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Rockville, Md.  She had congestive heart disease.

In 38 years with The Star, Miss Cline rose from “copy girl” to deputy editor of its Washington Life section. She also did a two-year stint as a sports reporter during World War II.

Born in Washington, D.C., and reared in the village of Falls Church, Va., Miss Cline was the youngest of eight children.  Her father, Sheldon Scott Cline, was managing editor of The Evening Star at the time of his death in 1928, when Miss Cline was eight years old. Her father and mother, Mary Brigham Cline, had met in 1901 when S. S. Cline, then city editor at The Washington Post, interviewed Mary’s father, Assistant Secretary of Agriculture Joseph Henry Brigham.

Miss Cline graduated from the now-closed Jefferson High School, on Cherry Street in Falls Church, and from Strayer Business College. She did secretarial work for a few years and took night classes at George Washington University and Dumbarton College.

After taking a journalism class in 1943, Miss Cline applied to The Evening Star, which had begun hiring women to be newsroom copy boys, due to a shortage of male reporters during World War II. She did so without telling her older brother, Jack Cline, the paper’s chief editorial writer, for fear that he might disapprove. (He didn’t, and they both continued to work at the Star until Jack’s retirement in 1969 and hers in 1981.)

Within five months Miss Cline was made head “copy girl.” As the wartime draft decimated the sports staff, she was sent there as a cub reporter, where one of her challenges was covering an ice hockey game without ever having seen the sport played.

After the Star’s sports reporters returned from the war, Miss Cline joined the mostly female staff of the Society section, which over time was transformed into the Women’s section, then Portfolio and Washington Life. Over a career of nearly four decades, she covered social and diplomatic events, edited copy and eventually became deputy editor of the section.

She retired when The Washington Star ceased publication in 1981, a victim of the long national decline in afternoon newspaper readership and the rise of The Washington Post’s circulation dominance.

In 2006 Miss Cline became an honorary member of the National Press Club, of which her father had been a founding member in 1908. (During most of her journalism career, the club had not accepted women members, finally changing the policy in 1971.)

Miss Cline was a longtime resident of Bethesda. Her hobbies included watercolor painting, gardening, and volunteering at Suburban Hospital. In the 1970s she studied yoga with Savitri Ahuja, whose classes introduced yoga to many congressional and cabinet wives, diplomats, journalists and socialites.

Miss Cline is survived by 15 nieces and nephews, 37 grandnieces and grandnephews, and 50 great-grandnieces and nephews.