Newsweek editor Tita Dioso Gillespie, 70

A trailblazer for Asian women in magazine journalism

Teresita “Tita” Dioso Gillespie, a longtime editor at “Newsweek” magazine, died on December 18 at the Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury, Maryland, after suffering several complications following a heart attack a few weeks ago. She was 70 and is survived by her husband of 42 years, Brette Gillespie, a retired Navy officer.

Ms. Gillespie was a trailblazer for Asian women — and Filipino women in particular — in the field of magazine editing. In its June 2000 issue, “Filipinas” magazine gave Gillespie an Achievement Award for being the first Filipina to serve as “Newsweek’s” general editor, noting “Gillespie belongs to a short list of top-caliber Filipino journalists who have increasing influence in the international print media.” She took her role as a pioneering Filipina editor in the U.S. seriously, speaking about her experiences at seminars and mentoring several Asian American journalists, including her nephew, John Dioso, who went on to become a managing editor of “Rolling Stone,” “Martha Stewart Living” and “Us Weekly.”

Gillespie was born in Manila, the third of the four children of Leocadio A. Dioso, a Philippine jurist, legal adviser to then President Ramon Magsaysay, and diplomat, and the former Rosario Rodriguez Fernandez.

After two years at the University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Gillespie moved to New York City with her parents and siblings in 1960 when her father was assigned to the Philippine Mission to the United Nations. She completed her undergraduate degree in English and philosophy in 1963 at Hunter College in New York, and went on to receive a program certificate in 17th-century English studies at Exeter College at Oxford University in England and a graduate degree in Medieval French Literature and Civilization from the Sorbonne in Paris, France, where she witnessed the student protests of 1968.

Returning to New York, Gillespie became a proofreader at “Woman’s Day” magazine. After marrying Mr. Gillespie, she moved to San Francisco, working as an editor at McGraw-Hill. Back in New York five years later, she continued her career as a book editor at the Free Press and John Wiley & Sons. She joined “Newsweek” in 1976 as an editor on the copydesk, but left the magazine in 1980 to serve a two-year stint as an editor at the United Nations Industrial Development Organization in Vienna, Austria.

After rejoining “Newsweek,” she became the magazine’s associate editor in charge of editorial style, and in 1992 was promoted to general editor and de facto copy chief. Her tenure at the newsweekly coincided with some of the most momentous historical events of the late twentieth century, including the People Power Revolution of 1986, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the eruption of Mount Pinatubo, the first Gulf War, the invention of the Internet, 9/11, and the election of Barack Obama.

After retiring from “Newsweek” in 2008, Gillespie and her husband moved to Crisfield, Maryland. In addition to her husband, Gillespie is survived by her older brother, Leocadio F. Dioso, a former Deputy Director of the United Nations’ Internal Audit Division and now the founder and executive director of the Leocadio Alonsagay Dioso Memorial Library in Pandan, Antique. Her older sister, Maria Dioso Manjon, died in 1995, and her younger brother, Jose Dioso, died in 2000. Other survivors include her nephews Michael Manjon, B.J. Manjon, Lee Dioso, and John Dioso.

The Dioso-Gillespie family: From left, husband Brette, Tita, her mother Rosario, older brother Leo, and his wife Edelvina “Chiqui” Liongson Dioso

The Dioso family circa 1953: From left, older sister Maria, mother Rosario, older brother Leocadio Jr., Tita, father Leocadio Sr. The little boy in front is her younger brother Jose. Photos courtesy of the Dioso family

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