Gilbert  Cranberg
Gilbert Cranberg
Gilbert Cranberg

March 11, 2018
Born in New York City
Resided in Sarasota, Florida


Private family burial and graveside ceremony will be in Des Moines, Iowa. The public is invited to a reception at Temple B'Nai Jeshurun, 5101 Grand Avenue, Des Moines, at 2:30 p.m., Friday, March 16, 2018. For questions or details, contact

A more expanded memorial celebrating the life of Gilbert Cranberg will be in Des Moines, Iowa in the summer. For details, contact

GILBERT CRANBERG of Sarasota, FL and Des Moines, IA. CONTACTS: Lee Cranberg, Tel. 617-413-6155; Marcia Wolff, Tel. 202-422-5005

Gilbert Cranberg, of Sarasota, Florida, previously of Des Moines, Iowa, died on Sunday, March 11, 2018. The cause of death was pneumonia. He was 93.

Cranberg was associated for 33 years with The Des Moines Register and Tribune where he supervised a staff of up to 12 as editor of the editorial pages of both papers. Through his articles and editorials about criminal-justice issues he was instrumental in establishing in Des Moines one of the nation’s first bail-reform programs. His writings focused on civil rights, inequality, politics, the media, Supreme Court ethics, law, and criminal justice.

Upon retirement from the Des Moines Register Cranberg was George H. Gallup Professor of Journalism at the University of Iowa School of Journalism and Mass Communication, where he taught for 18 years. There he conducted a large number of research projects and founded the university’s Libel Research Project, financed by the Markle Foundation, to study the feasibility of resolving libel disputes by non-litigation methods. He co-authored “Libel Law and the Press: Myth and Reality,” (The Free Press) whose authors won the 1987 Distinguished Service Award of the Society of Professional Journalists for research in journalism. Another book, “Taking Stock: Journalism and the Publicly Traded Newspaper Company,” published by Iowa State Press, was supported by a grant from the Open Society Institute.

Cranberg was born in 1925 in New York City. He was a graduate of the Bronx High School of Science. He served in the infantry in the Pacific during World War II where he participated in the landings on Leyte and Okinawa. He graduated magna cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Syracuse University (1949) and received a master’s degree in Social Science from Drake University (1956). He attended the University of Oslo in Norway and the University of Debrecen in Hungary. He was for six years an at-large member of the National Board of Directors of the American Civil Liberties Union. He was a Fellow of the World Policy Institute and of the Open Society Institute.

He served as chairman of the Professional Standards Committee of the National Conference of Editorial Writers and as a director of that organization. He was a life member of the National Conference of Editorial Writers for having “achieved exceptional distinction in the profession.” He was a member of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and of its Ethics and Values Committee.
In Iowa he served on the boards of a large number of community organizations, among them the Des Moines Child Guidance Center, Iowa Peace Institute, Iowa Children’s and Family Services, Iowa Civil Liberties Union, and Public Library of Des Moines Foundation.

He wrote for numerous publications, including the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, USA TODAY, Chicago Tribune, Journalism Quarterly, Columbia Journalism Review, American Journalism Review, Nieman Reports, Nieman Watchdog, American Bar Association Journal, North Carolina Law Review, Florida International University Law Review and Iowa Law Review. Most recently he maintained a news and commentary blog, “The Truth Is!” (

He is predeceased by his wife of 58 years, Norma. He is survived by his longtime companion Clare Levin of Sarasota, FL; four children - Lee (Sherry) of Chestnut Hill, MA, Marcia Wolff (Samuel) of Washington, DC, James (Judith) of Glendale, WI, and Andrew (Renee) of Buffalo Grove, IL; eight grandchildren; a sister, Sylvia Troy; and loving aides Laura Adams and Alexandra Kondratovich.

Family say that one word that could be used to describe Mr. Cranberg is unflappable. Very little would upset him (except perhaps injustice done to others). It was an attitude he learned in the infantry in World War II. Comrades would come and go - some transferred, others killed - and there he cultivated the habit of adapting as necessary, without fuss. He took things as they came and looked forward to the future. In the worst of storms, he would always find that patch of sky unseen by others where it was clearing.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to:
1) Des Moines Library Foundation,
2) Iowa Jewish Senior Life Center
3) Jewish Housing Council Fndtn of Sarasota
4) American Civil Liberties Union

There will also be a Memorial Ceremony on Tuesday, March 13 at 4:00 PM at Kobernick house (Aviva) at 1951 North Honore; Sarasota, FL 34232.




Funeral Home
Dunn's Funeral Home
2121 Grand Avenue
Des Moines, IA US 50312