Mary Jane "MJ" Bear passed away on December 17, 2010 in Seattle, Washington. She courageously battled leukemia for seven months. Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m., Tuesday, December 21, 2010 at Tifereth Israel Synagogue in Des Moines, Iowa. Burial will follow at Glendale Cemetery.
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She was a devoted daughter, sister, aunt, niece and friend. MJ led the most interesting and dynamic life, and while doing so, always fulfilled her selfless mantra of "doing the right thing." Her altruistic nature and ability to provide sage and thoughtful advice has and will continue to influence everyone she touched. She ALWAYS thought of others before she thought of herself and never wanted to inconvenience or burden her family or friends. She was quick and funny with a hearty laugh and boundless energy. She left a positive and dear impression on hundreds of people around the globe.
MJ was born on April 9, 1962 to Aaron David and Jeanette Blumberg Bear in Des Moines, Iowa. After attending Roosevelt High School, MJ graduated from Boston University with a degree in Broadcast Journalism and went on to attain a Master of Arts in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia.
After Graduate School, MJ worked for several television stations around the U.S., in roles of Producer and Executive Producer. In 1995, as the Internet was in its infancy, MJ realized that there was a tremendous opportunity to marry journalism with the web. In the developing industry, she served as project manager and consultant at Microsoft. From 1996 to 2001 she worked for National Public Radio in Washington, DC, eventually ending her tenure as the Vice President for Online. It was there that she created 36 award winning websites and negotiated key partnerships with AOL, Yahoo, Microsoft, Apple, and Real Networks. MJ established her independent consulting company MJBear.com in 2001. She also entered academia again when she accepted a broadcast journalism teaching position at American University in Washington, D.C.
In 2004 she served as a Knight International Foundation Fellow in Bucharest, Romania, training journalism students and media professionals. She was later recruited by Radio Free Europe in Prague to serve as Director of Programming from 2005 to 2008.
MJ's dedication to work and passion for excellence were never more apparent than in her last several years, at which time she worked for MSN-Microsoft and was based in Vienna, Austria. She served as Executive Producer for the Central and Eastern Europe Middle East and Africa MSN websites. Her responsibilities included launching websites in Greece, Poland, Israel, and Turkey as well as launching new TV programming in Kyrgyzstan and Georgia. MJ's accomplishments at MSN launched her into an executive training program within Microsoft and provided her with various awards and accolades within the company. MJ's role at Microsoft was her "dream job," and she loved every aspect of the position.
MJ was a founding board member of the Online News Association, and past President of the Young Leadership division for the Jewish Federation of Seattle. She had an active role in Jewish communities in every city in which she lived.
MJ was preceded in death by her father, David Bear. She is survived by her mother, Jeanette Bear; brother, Dr. Philip (Robin) Bear; sister, Linda (Robert) Carpenter; uncles Myron (Barbara) Bear and Rabbi Herman (Paula) Blumberg; niece and nephews Chelsea, Elliot and Mason Bear, and Blake and Jake Carpenter; and cousins Joan Tigai, Jonathon Blumberg (Jenny Richlin), David (Karen) Blumberg, Naomi (Rabbi Braham) David, Dawne (Gregg) Novicoff, and Ab (Allyson) Bear.
MJ was a founding board member of the Online News Association and had expressed interest in creating an endowment to help aspiring young journalists. In Lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the fund. Make checks payable to: Online News Association; Make the memo/notation on the check say: MJ Bear Endowment Fund; Send to: Online News Association, MJ Bear Endowment Fund, P.O. Box 6574, Washington, D.C. 20035.
Published in Des Moines Register from Dec. 20 to Dec. 21, 2010