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David O. Ives, 84; Longtime Head of Boston's WGBH-TV

May 19, 2003|From Associated Press

BOSTON — David O. Ives, who, during a long career at Boston's WGBH-TV, oversaw the launching of a number of productions that became cornerstones of public television, died Friday after a brief illness. He was 84.

Under Ives' leadership, WGBH inaugurated such series as "Nova," "Frontline" and "Masterpiece Theatre."

The station also became a national leader in developing "how-to" programs, including Julia Child's cooking shows, "This Old House" and "The Victory Garden."

Ives spent 40 years at WGBH, including 14 as president and chief executive.

While the station contributed to public broadcasting's national menu, Ives' programming philosophy ensured a place for community shows, including "Say Brother" (now "Basic Black"), which is believed to be the longest-running program in the country that is focused on the African American community.

Ives was "a national leader, a Boston institution and a wise and generous mentor," said Henry Becton Jr., who succeeded Ives as the station's president.

A familiar face to viewers during fund drives in the 1960s and '70s, Ives enthusiastically demonstrated umbrellas on the air, performed songs and skits, and once even rode an elephant on camera.

Ives joined the station in 1960 as director of development.

In 1970, he was named president and chief executive of the WGBH Educational Foundation.

He remained at the station as vice chairman of its board of trustees and chairman of its executive committee until his retirement in 2001.

Ives also was a reporter, editor and bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal at offices in New York, Detroit, Washington and Boston.

He made the leap to the electronic media as an editorial writer for WBZ-TV and radio before joining WGBH.

Ives is survived by his wife of 23 years, two sons, four stepchildren and 12 grandchildren.

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