Florence Niles
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Florence R. Niles, 73

WORCESTER - Florence R. Niles, 73, of Worcester, a longtime newswoman and wordsmith, died Friday, Sept. 16, 2016, at her home.

As copy desk chief at the Telegram & Gazette for 32 years, she was a respected newsroom figure who insisted on accuracy, fairness and lively writing while she and her staff tended to the rush and polish of deadline editing.

Her career with the Worcester daily spanned 49 years with dedication and devotion, from 1965 until she left in 2014.

She was born Oct. 1, 1942, the daughter of Wesley D. and Jane B. (Corbett) Niles. Her younger sister, Anne B. Niles of Rockaway, New Jersey, died in 1999.

She graduated from the University of Michigan in 1964, with a bachelor's degree in journalism. A year later, through an internship agreement with her alma mater, Ms. Niles was hired by The Evening Gazette. She was a local pioneer in journalism, having been one of the first female reporters to work in the Gazette's newsroom, and helped lead the way for other women. Ms. Niles covered education and urban renewal before being promoted to photo editor in 1973. She was named Hometown editor in 1977, and the following year became regional desk chief.

Ms. Niles assumed her signature role of copy desk chief on Oct. 1, 1982, her 40th birthday. In 2010, she also took on the duties of Sunday editor.

Known for her sharp eye for detail and a knack for serving readers, she taught many copy editors over the years. She could make a sharp comment one moment, and be laughing the next. For Ms. Niles, the paper was an almost ingrained priority; she focused attention on any story before her, and was always willing to work long hours and extra shifts.

"If there is one word to describe Florence, it's professional. For a half-century at the T&G, she was the consummate professional, working tenaciously every day to make the paper better, whether it be by editing a story, writing a headline or mentoring countless copy editors," said Harry T. Whitin, former editor of the Telegram & Gazette.

Ms. Niles loved the arts, gardening and animals, particularly her golden retrievers, Shakespeare, who has a new home, and Simba, her first dog. She enjoyed long walks with her dog in Lake Park near her home and became friends with several of her fellow dog-walkers. She volunteered briefly at the city's Broad Meadow Brook wildlife sanctuary.

A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Oct. 29 at the Athy Memorial Home, 111 Lancaster St., Worcester. She will be buried with her family in Maplewood Cemetery in Camillus, New York. In lieu of flowers, donations in her memory may be made to NEADS (National Education for Assistance Dog Services), P.O. Box 1100, Princeton, MA 01541; Worcester Animal Rescue League, 139 Holden St., Worcester, MA, 01606; or a charity of one's choice.

Published in Worcester Telegram & Gazette from Oct. 15 to Oct. 25, 2016.
No memorial events are currently scheduled. To offer your sympathy during this difficult time, you can now have memorial trees planted in a National Forest in memory of your loved one.
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