Born in Berlin on Jan. 14, 1938, to Harold and Lily Wolkowitz Kartiganer, Esther Kartiganer was only a year old when her family immigrated to the United States to escape the Nazis.
She graduated from Brandeis in 1959 with a degree in political science. As a student, she had played on the Brandeis women’s basketball team, which went undefeated during the 1955-56 season. In 1964, after working for a political polling firm, she was hired as an office assistant at CBS. Rising through the ranks, she began to help produce documentaries, then became a senior editor and eventually a senior producer of “60 Minutes.” Few women held leadership positions in journalism at the time. At the time, there were no women either on news shows or in positions of power at CBS. “Central to my success is the fact that I didn’t marry and have children. I was on the road almost constantly for the first year. The men — even one with two sets of twins under age 2 — thought nothing of traveling. But only single women had the flexibility to put work at the top of their priorities. During that year, I got to know almost everyone at CBS, and that’s how the temporary job became permanent.” During a career spanning more than four decades at CBS News, she won thirteen Emmy Awards.
At “60 Minutes,” she produced a segment on Shaken Baby Syndrome and also helped produce a piece on the dangers of sulfites, which can cause assorted medical problems. That led to new regulations regarding their use in preserving food.
At Brandeis, Kartiganer was a founding member of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program’s national board and served as its co-chair for many years. Upon her retirement from CBS in 2005, the network made a generous gift in her honor to help fund a professorship in women’s and gender studies.
“Esther was a kind of driving force behind anything she was passionate about, and she was absolutely passionate about Brandeis and the Women’s and Gender Studies Program,” said Sue Lanser, the program chair and a professor of English, women’s and gender studies, and comparative literature. “She saw first-hand how difficult it was for women, and wanted to live out the Brandeis values of equality and justice. She saw the Women’s and Gender Studies Program as a path….”
Kartiganer was stricken while engaged in a favorite pastime: riding her bicycle to a ski lift that would transport her to a mountaintop, where she enjoyed reading the New York Times.
That strikes me as “a good death”!
Source material: New York Times and Brandeis University