Sunday, November 16, 2014

Longtime Merc reporter Betty Barnacle Dillane dead at 83

Betty Barnacle Dillane, a dogged police reporter for the Mercury News for decades, died Nov. 13 of complications from Alzheimer's disease. She was 83.

She was one of the first women hired by the then-San Jose News in the 1950s. The Merc obit said she developed such a trustworthy relationship with police that she was permitted to flip through their files to find reports she thought were newsworthy.

"No one worked the phones like Betty," said former Mercury News copy editor Michele Jurich, noting Dillane's skill in getting people to open up to her.

Dillane's obit notes that she was gracious, kind and welcoming to women in the newsroom. Her thoughtfulness showed up in her obituaries, which she wrote during her last years with the Mercury News, and she often received thank-you notes from grateful families.

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