Eileen Vincent Summers

Eileen was born in London on August 4, 1918 and died on August 1, 2009 – three days short of her 91st birthday.

Eileen was adopted by a couple named Arthur and Lizzie Gladman, who had lost their only son in the Battle of the Somme. Throughout her life she tried to find answers to the details of her real family and origins, but despite her efforts, she was unsuccessful. All records had been destroyed.

Eileen was a writer and a working journalist all her life. This is a quote from a letter Eileen wrote to ‘The Journal’ of the Chartered Institute of Journalists.

“I was particularly taken by Phillip Paul’s recollection of his days and nights as a cub reporter with the Salisbury Journal. I too, was a trainee reporter at about the same period, with his competition The Salisbury Times for fourteen months and then for a couple of months of World War

II.” Describing her early days as a cub reporter she wrote: “When the editor discovered that not only could I write, I could spell, he let me loose on every type of assignment. From Yehudi Menuhin at the cathedral to inquests, courts martial, police courts and City Council. I had a ball.”

After the war, Eileen married an American, Thomas Summers and moved to Palo Alto California, where she became a staff-writer for the local paper. There were long periods when she lived in Europe where her husband had a diplomatic post.

Divorced, after eighteen years of marriage, Eileen returned to the United States where she went to work for The Washington Post as a staff writer. After six years in Washington, she moved to New York where she was an editorial writer for the CBS all-news flagship radio station in New York and

then writer/researcher with the Elections Unit of NBC Television.

While working in New York, Eileen fell in love and was engaged to marry John Merriman, the Managing Editor of the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. Tragically he was killed in an airplane crash in 1974 shortly before their marriage.

In a verse from a poem Eileen wrote after John Merriman’s death she wrote:

“Don’t tell me that you know just how I feel.

Has death for you, with one swift blow

Become quite real?

Does your true love lie dead? If this is so Then yes, you know Just how I feel.”

After John’s death, Eileen returned to England and went to work for The Oxford Times. She then settled in Egham, Surrey, working as a free-lance journalist. At the same time, she joined the Chartered Institute of Journalists and became a long-serving committee member of the Freelance Division and Trustee of Institute charities. She leaves a collection of plays, short stories, book reviews and poems.


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