We are deeply sorry for your loss - the staff at Dapson Chestney Funeral Home
Martin Beiser, an urbane and respected editor of magazines and books whose long stint as Managing Editor at GQ helped shape the journalistic voice of the publication from the late 80s through the early 2000s, died on April 19 in Rhinebeck, N.Y. He was 73.
His death came at the end of a protracted battle with spinocerebellar ataxia.
He was born in Philadelphia, PA, on June 5, 1948, to Earl and Marian Beiser, née Knox. Though given the full name of John Martin Beiser, he was Martin or Marty to everyone who knew him. From his father, who worked at The Philadelphia Inquirer for 25 years after serving in the Navy during World War II, he inherited a love for publishing and the written word; from his mother, a sense of humor that could be both acerbic and understated, and a deep love of family. From childhood he also fostered a fondness for Philadelphia and its sports teams that was as loyal as it was (mostly) disappointing; happily, his devotions were more rewarded elsewhere.
He studied Political Science at Northeastern University, graduating in 1971. It was while working at The Northeastern News that he met Kathryn Kepner, whom he married in October of 1971, and who was to be his life partner of over 50 years. Later in life he would write that marrying her was the “wisest thing I’ve ever done.” After living in a succession of east coast cities including Boston and Washington D.C., the couple settled in New York, where they would have two children.
Beiser received his Masters from Columbia Journalism School in 1974, before launching an expansive and successful career that would span the decades from the post-Watergate 1970s to the Obama years of the 2010s. His editorial voice graced a range of publications and formats, including newspapers, glossy print magazines, and books. He worked as a reporter for The Bergen Record, before transitioning to editorial roles at Juris Doctor and Media People. In 1980 he helped launch Adweek magazine, serving first as Executive Editor and then National Editor. It was in 1985 that he first began working at GQ, starting off as Assistant Managing Editor, before being promoted first to Executive Editor in 1990, and then Managing Editor in 1991, a position he held until 2003. Beiser’s tenure coincided with the transformation of GQ into a general interest magazine; his taste and vision played no small role in the new emphasis on journalistic reporting. Working in the heyday of 80s and 90s glossy print pop culture focus, Beiser favored a tone of style and substance over fashion; his was a worldview informed equally by classic Hollywood glamour and Woodward and Bernstein, and he always had time for a martini. From 2003 to 2013, he worked as a nonfiction book editor at Free Press, a division of Simon & Schuster, where he had a number of best sellers. Books like Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush, by Robert Draper, and Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich, by Mark Kreigel, were examples of his lifelong interests in politics and sports, and of his continuing strengths in working with writers.
In addition to his wife, Kathryn, Martin is survived by his children, Caitlin Sullivan-Pond (Matthew) and Michael Beiser (Valeri Schwartz); his two grandchildren, Dylan and Ruby, and his brother Steve Beiser. He was preceded in death by his sister Linda Beiser.
Services are private and at the convenience of the family.
Arrangements under the direction of the Dapson-Chestney Funeral Home, Rhinebeck.