Neighborhood resident, Wall Street Journal columnist and extraordinary human Scott McCartney is retiring. He has penned a column called The Middle Seat, where he has covered all things airlines and travel for 29 of his 40 years as a journalist.
He made his pending retirement public in his Dec. 15 editorial, wherein he reflects on his years covering the industry.
“I wish I could say that travel has improved since we started the Middle Seat in January 2002,” he writes in his second to last column. “I’d even like to think that somehow, some way the Middle Seat did just a little something to push airlines and other travel companies into better service and more customer focus.”
I interviewed Scott a couple months ago. His wife, Karen Blumenthal, also a famous author, led the effort to revive the Forest Green Library. When Karen died, Scott and his daughters were left devastated but determined to carry out the project.
“It has helped us, helped us feel Karen’s presence,” he said in October. “It was bittersweet because she wasn’t there to see it, but it was more sweet than bitter because it really is beyond what she dreamed and hoped for.”
If you acknowledged that at times Scott was upstaged by his popular wife, it would not bother him at all. They were a team.
Their’s is a heart-warming and -breaking tale. They did not compete. In fact at the first hint of tension over a lead, Scott marched into editors at the Journal and said he would never again vie with her for a story. That’s when his bosses offered his wife a job and how they wound up running the Journal’s Dallas Bureau together for a while.
“I am sure it also was strange for the people who worked for us. It turned out a little like a mom- and-pop bakery — like, ‘OK, you edit the story and I’ll pick up the girls. I’ll take care of this, and you make dinner.’ And it was really convenient for us to divide up duties like that,” he said.
Karen died in May 2020 of a heart attack. She was just 61.
In his own right, Scott helped the Journal earn a Pulitzer for its coverage of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He’s published four books. And he is an instrument-rated, multi-engine private pilot.
Writing his column throughout the pandemic was clearly a challenge, and he said he fears travel will become “more stressful and difficult.”
Yet he also mentions in his latest column that it is safer and less expensive than when he started.
Scott and Karen’s daughters Jen and Abby McCartney are as successful as you’d expect these two’s offspring to be — Jen is a Hollywood writer and Abby is a legislative aid to Sen. Elizabeth Warren and an advocate for child care and education rights.