Michael Luther, the former editor in chief of DNR, died March 11 after a two-year battle with liver cancer. He was 71.
According to his life partner, Bette Guastaferro, Luther had been in and out of the hospital several times since the diagnosis but opted to return home under hospice care.
Born in Cambridge, Neb., Luther attended San Diego State University and graduated with a degree in clinical psychology. During college, he lived on and off with his aunt, Marylou Luther, an acclaimed fashion journalist who spent more than six decades covering the fashion industry for the Chicago Tribune, McCall’s and the Los Angeles Times and had a syndicated column called Clothesline. When he graduated from college, she recalled Monday, he started working for her husband, a publisher, who taught him about the fabric industry. He moved to New York in the 1970s and joined Daily News Record, the now-defunct brother publication to Women’s Wear Daily, as a textile reporter. He ascended through the ranks and was named editor-in-chief of the menswear publication in 1977, a role he retained for 12 years.
He subsequently held a variety of positions in publishing and public relations including copy editor for Condé Nast Traveler; managing editor of Unlimited, a Hachette Filipacchi publication; communications director of Creative Marketing Plus; managing editor of Boston Common; associate director of public relations for Cotton Incorporated, and a freelance copy editor for Assouline Publishing. For the past 14 years he also freelanced for a variety of publications through his own business, Michael Luther Editorial Services.
He was a giant of a man at 6-feet 6-inches tall, and had a personality to match. Outside of his writing and editing, Luther was a dedicated guitarist who often brought one of the instruments from his collection into the office to play for the staff. In addition, it always brought a smile to peoples’ faces to see Luther tenderly walking and holding his beloved West Highland Terriers, a small breed for such a large man.
Marylou Luther said of her nephew: “Mike was tall — tall in editing, tall in writing and tall in determining a story’s inches and its fashion footholds. He reached the heights and brought a lot of people along with him.”
Designer Jeffrey Banks said: “He was a terrific guy — friendly, fun and funny, that was the big takeaway on Michael. But he was also a great editor. He was incredibly well respected by the people in the menswear industry — everybody always loved his sense of humor and you need that in the fashion industry.”
In addition to Guastaferro, his partner of 30 years, and his aunt, Luther is survived by his sister Mary Palmer, a niece and nephew.
His wishes were not to have any kind of funeral or memorial, according to Guastaferro, who said that as a result, no services are planned. As per his wishes, she said, his ashes will be scattered in the Hudson Valley.