Jul. 20, 2016: Former Bronxville resident, academician, editor at three major news magazines, and humanitarian Michael Elliott passed away on Thursday, July 14, 2016, at the age of 65 after living with cancer for more than two years. He leaves behind his wife, Emma Oxford, two daughters, Roxana and Gina, and many good friends and colleagues around the world.
Elliott was an editor for Time International, Newsweek International, and The Economist before his final role as humanitarian at the ONE Campaign, an advocacy organization co-founded by singer Bono to fight extreme poverty and preventable disease.
Time magazine said of him, "Elliott, who was awarded an Order of the British Empire in 2003 for his services to journalism, was known and loved by all who worked with him for his ability to be fascinated, his generosity and his almost giddy, unbridled gusto. He loved new stories, new people, new places. There was apparently no realm in which his mind did not wish to roam and in which he could find nothing to pique his curiosity."
Elliott was born and raised in Liverpool, England. He earned a bachelor's degree in jurisprudence and a bachelor of civil law degree at Oxford University and embarked on a career in academia, teaching at Northwestern University and becoming a tenured professor at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
He was about to join Deloitte as a management consultant but was courted by Andrew Knight of The Economist in 1984, who told him that he would make less money but would have more fun, "'both of which were true,'" Time quotes Elliott as having said.
He spent a few years at The Economist, moving in 1986 to the United States to become its Washington bureau chief. While at The Economist, he originated the "Bagehot" and "Lexington" columns about British and American politics. He joined Newsweek in 1993, where he was diplomatic editor and then editor of the international edition. He had a brief stint at a tech startup before joining Time in 2001, where he rose to deputy editor and international editor. He wrote over 20 cover articles for Time and was the inspiration for the Time 100, an annual listing of the most influential people in the world.
He was a respected and revered editor who "could write on any subject and at any height, from the minutely observed to 20,000 feet in the air. . . . He never talked down to readers and expected as much of them as of himself, always writing to unite, not divide," says Time. He was known for his optimism, enthusiasm, energy, and joie de vivre.
He was described as "larger than life" by Time editor Nancy Gibbs, who is quoted by Time as saying, '"He lived life large, buoyantly, flamboyantly, delightedly chasing the next big idea, spotting the next great talent, inviting us all to his table to listen and learn. He was preacher and teacher, mentor to generations of journalists and model to all of us as editors. We will miss him terribly.'"
Elliott wrote four books, one of which is The Day Before Yesterday, a history of America after World War II in which he "marvel[ed] . . . about how Americans didn't really appreciate [America] enough," says Time. He also wrote and presented television documentaries that were seen worldwide.
The New York Times obituary explains, "He made his turn toward humanitarianism while working for Newsweek, after the magazine ran an article in 2000 titled 'Can Bono Save the Third World?' When a headhunter for Bono's organization came calling, Mr. Elliott was primed to decide that after years of writing about problems, it was time to do something about them."
Elliott was with the ONE Campaign from 2011 to 2016 and served as its president and CEO and, earlier this year, as a senior strategic advisor. "Rarely deskbound, Mr. Elliott exercised hands-on leadership, dealing with refugees from the Middle East and hunger in sub-Sahara Africa as the One Campaign's membership rose to more than seven million from two million," says the New York Times.
Elliott was committed to serving nonprofit organizations and served on boards and advisory committees and panels of organizations including the World Economic Forum's Global Agenda Council on Poverty and Sustainable Development, the Global Poverty Project, and the United Nations Development Programme's Human Development Report. In October of 2015, Goodnet.org named him one of "25 Inspiring CEOs Who Change Lives Every Single Day."
In the ONE Campaign's announcement of his death, Tom Freston, chairman of the ONE Campaign; Bono, lead singer of U2 and co-founder of the ONE Campaign; and Emma Oxford, his wife, remember his vitality and dedication.
Freston: "'Mike was a great man with a big heart. He had lived with cancer for more than two years, with indomitable courage and irrepressible good humor. . . . He spoke of his pride in his work with us, and we all celebrated his enormous achievements at ONE, in journalism, and beyond. . . . Michael had many great and influential jobs in his career, but said that none had meant more to him than his work at the ONE Campaign.'"
Bono: "'Above all else, he wanted his life to be useful. . . . As the leader of ONE he communicated with ease just how doable was the transformation of the lives of the poorest. . . . He was also great, great fun. In the world that ONE lives to change, that quality is one of the rarest and the one I personally will miss the most.'"
Emma Oxford: "'Mike's zest for life never dimmed, even as he coped courageously with an aggressive cancer over the last two and a half years. Indeed, his awareness that he might run out of time far too soon only deepened his appreciation of life, of his work for ONE, and his love of family and friends.'"
The ONE Campaign concludes its eulogy: "Our thoughts are with Emma, Roxana and Gina. Michael had many friends and family in Washington, D.C., in New York, in the U.K., and across the world who will join them in remembering him with love and admiration."