Harry Eugene Minetree — journalist, author, documentarian, and former East Hampton resident until 1995 — passed on Monday, September 17, in Glendale, CA. He was 83 years old.
Minetree was born on April 7, 1935, in Poplar Bluff, MO, the son of Richard Herbert and Ruth Esther Minetree, attended Harvard and Vanderbilt universities, and was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity. While at college, he developed his love of the media, editing the Chase humor magazine, the Hustler newspaper, and as a radio announcer for WVU.
After receiving his MFA in English and Creative Writing from the University of Iowa in 1962, where he was an Industries Scholar and teaching assistant, Minetree spent the next seven years teaching at Columbia College, Memphis State University, Syracuse University (SS), Lindenwood College, and as a guest lecturer at the University of London.
His biography of heart surgeon Denton Cooley, Cooley: The Career of a Great Heart Surgeon, published by Harper’s, was a book club selection and was subsequently printed in German and Spanish as well. Minetree hit his stride as a hard-hitting journalist in the early 1970s, with articles appearing in Time Magazine, The New York Times, and the Hearst publications.
Minetree was twice-nominated and received citations for excellence in foreign reporting (Africa) from the Overseas Press Club, and his short stories appeared in several literary quarterlies including the Kenyon Review and Arlington Quarterly, along with other anthologies.
He wrote and produced three documentary films for PBS: The Most Endangered Species . . . George Adamson (narrated by John Huston); The Most Endangered Species . . . Dr. Denton Cooley, and A Reporter in Grenada. The films were broadcast worldwide, the latter screened at the International Conference on Broadcasting in Marseille, France, in 1985.
Minetree belonged to many organizations, including the Overseas Press Club, the Eagle Scouts of America, the Quill Club (Harare, Zimbabwe), the Flying Doctors (Kenya), and the East Africa Press Club. Locally, he was on the board of directors of LTV.
He was married to Judith Ann Garner on November 13, 1955; the couple had six children: Harry II, Lee Vernon, Elizabeth Jett, Hugh Quenton, Garner Jay, and Judith McVey. Grandchildren include Lee Garner Minetree of Burlington, VT, Madeline Leigh Minetree of Orlando, FL, and Lilah Rose Minetree, who is in college at Rollins in Winter Park, FL. Elizabeth Jett now lives in Van Nuys, CA, and her daughter is Sarah Tennessee Jett, who is in college at Lewis & Clark in Portland, OR. He is also survived by a brother, Dr. Thomas Minetree, of Alabama.