The incomparable Ellen Warren, a Hall of Fame journalist whose insight and flair graced the pages of three Chicago newspapers, is retiring after more than two decades as senior correspondent and columnist for the Chicago Tribune.
Friday will be Warren’s last day at the Tribune, culminating a reporting career that stretched from Chicago City Hall to the White House and from the presidential campaign trail to the Middle East.
“I think it’s the right thing to do at the right time,” said Warren, who first approached Tribune editor Gerry Kern about negotiating a buyout agreement last March. “I’ve had a great run.”
Warren, who most recently wrote the all-knowing Answer Angel column, may hold the record for having written the widest variety of columns during her tenure at the Tribune. Among others were metro, lifestyle, politics, magazines, shopping advice and the INC. celebrity gossip column, which she co-wrote with Teresa Wiltz and the late Terry Armour.
Warren said her immediate plans are to spend the winter in “someplace warm” and to train for a half-marathon. After that she’s considering working part-time with her husband, Wade Nelson, on communications consulting and media strategies. Nelson resigned last June as communications officer for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan.
A graduate of Pennsylvania State University who also studied at the Sorbonne in Paris, Warren began her career at the fabled City News Bureau of Chicago in 1969 and joined the former Chicago Daily News where she became columnist Mike Royko’s first female legman. She went on to cover local government and politics in Chicago and various beats in Washington, D.C., first for the Daily News and later for the Sun-Times and Knight Ridder newspapers. She returned to Chicago and joined the Tribune in 1993.
In 1997 she was inducted in the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame.
“I’m grateful to the Trib and I’m grateful to Mike Royko, who really gave me my first break,” Warren said. “He was a great mentor, a great friend and my son’s godfather. Without him, God knows what would have happened.”
Although she’d been planning to step down for months, Warren said many of her Tribune colleagues expressed surprise when they heard she was calling it quits. “I guess they thought I’d just sit in my chair and turn skeletal, and then they’d just wheel me out,” she said.
(My blog is published independently under a licensing agreement with Chicago Tribune Media Group.)