On the first Friday of October, Jack Bierman escorted his younger daughter, Clare, onto the football field at La Cañada High School, where she was honored as a member of the LCHS Homecoming Court.
Two weeks later, the elder Bierman was in Huntington Memorial Hospital in Pasadena being treated for acute septic shock. He died there on Oct. 24 at the age of 71.
Since losing his wife, Susan, in January 2012, Bierman had been focused on Clare's well-being, as well as that of her older sister, Lisa. The Oct. 4 ceremony was a high point for the family.
“He was so proud and excited,” Lisa Bierman said in an interview this week. “People were coming up to tell him how great it was, and he thought [Clare] looked so beautiful.”
Jack Bierman is known in publishing circles as the founder of the highly successful L.A. Parent Magazine, which debuted in 1980 under the title Pony Ride. He grew his company to include Parenting for Orange County and San Diego Parent. Later he launched a Southland publication geared for teens, the Noise. He joined forces with other editors to launch Parenting Publications of America, which each year honors the best in children's books, toys and music.
But his interests went far beyond his publishing endeavors. Although he first took up journalism in high school, Bierman, known for his brilliant mind and sense of entrepreneurship, held a variety of jobs, according to Lisa Bierman.
Among other occupations, the New York native worked as an ice-cream man, camp counselor, hair stylist, soda jerk and, having moved to California in the early 1960s, as a respiratory therapist at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital. There he met Susan Owaki, a nurse. She became his bride and the mother of their three daughters. One daughter, Anna, died at the age of 3 in 1994.
Vivien Hughes, who started a journalistic career as an intern and later an editor at L.A. Parent, recalled that Bierman held his staff to high standards. “He expected and demanded high-quality work,” she said. “He also prided himself on finding young talent and developing them.”
According to Hughes, in 1984 Bierman enlisted his brother Carey as publisher of the company, Wingate Enterprises. In the early 1990s, Bierman was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.
Lisa Bierman said the diagnosis shaped his remaining years. Shortly after learning of his condition, her father made a trek into the Himalayas.
“He loved to travel,” she said. “He was always trying to think up a new trip he could take.”
In 1997, the Bierman brothers sold their firm and Jack brought his family to La Cañada Flintridge. He served as a docent at Huntington Library, was an avid trail user and loved to maintain his friendships over coffee at local establishments.
“Jack had a quirky personality that we all appreciated,” said Hughes, who also lives in La Cañada. “And he was always pushing us to read and learn.” And, she added, he had a humorous bent. “Even if he was complaining about something, it was so, so funny.”
Services were held Tuesday. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations in Jack Bierman's name to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.
CAROL CORMACI is the managing editor. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.ALSO: