Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Midge Turk Richardson Born March 26, 1930 Ex-Nun Turned to More Earthly Pursuits as Teen Magazine Editor

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Midge Turk Richardson Born March 26, 1930 Ex-Nun Turned to More Earthly Pursuits as Teen Magazine Editor

Article excerpt

Midge Turk Richardson, who spent 18 years as a nun before spending 18 years as the editor of Seventeen magazine, a redoubt of worldly concerns like clothes, makeup and dating, died last weekend, apparently in her sleep, at her home in New York City. She was 82.

A former Roman Catholic nun, Ms. Richardson left her order in 1966, a journey she recounted in a memoir, "The Buried Life," published in 1971. In secular life, she became a member of New York's social set, and was married for three decades to Ham Richardson, a tennis star who later ran his own investment concern, with homes in Manhattan and in Bridgehampton, on Long Island.

At Seventeen, which she edited from 1975 until her retirement in 1993, Ms. Richardson was known for introducing frank discussions of delicate subjects -- including sex, anorexia and suicide -- from which the magazine, aimed at teenage girls and long considered a bastion of wholesomeness, had traditionally shied away.

Under Ms. Richardson's stewardship, certain aspects of the magazine remained comfortably familiar. "Secrets of Staying Thin," promised one cover, from 1980; "Those Dreamy Summer Romances," proclaimed another that year.

But other cover lines betrayed her resolve to address modern readers' concerns: "Teen Suicide: The Danger Signals," "What You Must Know About Herpes."

In 1982, Ms. Richardson instituted a regular column, "Sex and Your Body," which explored subjects like gynecological health, sexual relations and birth control.

"We've been talking about it for years and trying to figure out how to go at it in a tasteful manner," she told The Chicago Tribune in 1983. "We don't want to be frightening to a young girl, or permissive. But the demands of the time finally brought us around to it."

All this was a far cry from her life as Sister Agnes Marie, and from the quiet routine of her days in the convent, where she had lived from the ages of 18 to 36.

Agnes Theresa Turk, known as Midge because of her petite stature, was born in Los Angeles on March 26, 1930, the youngest daughter of a Roman Catholic family. …

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