Newswoman possessed skill and moxie to spare
By Michael Tsai / email@example.com
A member of the University of North Carolina-Greensboro Athletics Hall of Fame and a former designer and copy editor for the Honolulu Advertiser, Elizabeth House forged a distinguished 35-year career in journalism out of a keen intellect, a love of sports and a broad set of newsroom skills.
House died Friday at the age of 56.
She is survived by brothers Kirk and Walt.
“Elizabeth was one of the most intelligent people I ever met in my life,” said longtime friend and Advertiser co-worker Wanda Adams. “Playing Trivial Pursuit with her was suicidal. But she also had a wonderful sense of humor, and she dealt with her physical infirmities really quite well.”
House was in North Carolina to attend the UNC-Greensboro Athletics Hall of Fame ceremony when she died.
Inducted into the hall in 2003 for her coverage of the championship Spartans soccer teams in the 1980s, House returned to North Carolina each year to celebrate the induction of each new Hall of Fame class.
Unbeknownst to her, House was to have received a special recognition from the athletics department at Saturday’s induction ceremony.
House’s elder brother, Kirk, accepted the honor on her behalf.
“She really made her bones covering those teams,” Kirk House said. “I think that experience was the high point of her life. It would have been wonderful for her to receive that award and to see all of her old friends.”
Elizabeth House began working as a reporter for the Greensboro News & Record while she was still an undergraduate at UNC-Greensboro. Like her mother, an English teacher, House had a heightened sensitivity for language and an appreciation for good writing.
Her own writing abilities — and her characteristic moxie — were given full expression in her work covering the men’s and women’s soccer teams.
“Women sports reporters were still kind of a novelty back then,” Kirk House said. “But she made her mark in that good ol’ boys club. She wasn’t a militant feminist but she knew how to assert herself and she never had trouble making friends. She just charmed her way through.”
Elizabeth House worked at the News & Record from 1979 until 1993, when she saw a posting for job at the Honolulu Advertiser.
Though she had never traveled outside of North Carolina, House didn’t hesitate once the job was offered.
The culture shock in moving from the continental South to the South Pacific was predictably jarring, her brother said, but House quickly fell in love with her new home.
“Whenever she came back, all of our family would try to encourage her to stay but she always said she had to get back to Hawaii,” Kirk House said. “It was amazing. She fell hard for Hawaii.”
Elizabeth House worked for the Advertiser from 1993 until its merger with the Honolulu Star-Bulletin in 2010. Although her primary responsibilities were as a page designer and copy editor, she also took pride in having written articles for every section of the paper.
House became known as a go-to person whenever tech-obtuse co-workers needed help with computers or software.
“She was a whiz,” Adams said. “I went to her whenever I couldn’t understand what my Mac was doing. She didn’t suffer fools gladly, but she would always give you great help if you needed it.”
Less known was the fact that House was also a talented musician who sang and played guitar and piano. House was also deeply spiritual and devoted much time to church activities.
“She was just a happy person,” Kirk House said, “playful, smart, curious and just happy.”