Legendary book editor Robert Loomis died on Sunday in Stony Brook, N.Y. He was 93.
He died at Stony Brook University Hospital after he had fallen at home.
Loomis spent his more than 50 years in book publishing at Random House. His roster of authors included Maya Angelou, Daniel J. Boorstin, Wlliam Styron, Calvin Trillin, Edmund Morris, Shelby Foote, Jim Lehrer and David Rockefeller.
He edited 31 books by Angelou, including her first, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” in 1969.
”We are an item,” Angelou once told the New York Times. ”I would go with Bob if he left and went to a university press. He knows what I hope to achieve in all my work. I don’t know anybody as fierce, simply fierce, but he’s as tender as he’s tough.”
Neil Sheehan’s tome “A Bright Shining Lie: John Paul Vann and America in Vietnam” took the author 16 years to write with Loomis by his side the entire time. When it was published 1988, it won the National Book Award. That same year, another book edited by Loomis, Peter Dexter’s novel “Paris Trout,” won the fiction award.
Born in Ohio, Loomis told Vanity Fair in 2011 that he became an editor because his own prose wasn’t good enough to make it as a writer. “I wrote a lot of fiction, but it was just college stuff,” he said. “It seems to me you have to be so confident in yourself to become a writer.”
Loomis is survived by a daughter, Searchlight Pictures SVP Diana Loomis, from his first marriage to literary agent Gloria Loomis, a son Miles from his second marriage to Norman Mailer biographer Hilary Mills Loomis, and a grandson Jackson.