Alexander McNab

Obituary of Alexander McNab

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            Alexander McNab, a long-time resident of Fairfield, Connecticut and former editor of Tennis Magazine, died on August 6 following complications from surgery. He was 71 years old.

            Alex was born on May 28, 1952 in San Francisco and grew up across the Golden Gate Bridge in Ross. He was the middle son of the late James McNab and Mary McNear McNab. In his youth he became enthusiastic about tennis, which became a life-long passion and professional career. He was an avid player, and although his ability to compete was limited by a congenital heart defect, his interest led him to establish an encyclopedic knowledge of the sport — its history, players, and matches. During his career, he interviewed many of the greats in tennis, from Ken Rosewall and Rod Laver to Bjorn Borg and Pete Sampras, to Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, and Martina Navratilova. He was also good friends with such esteemed tennis writers and commentators as Bud Collins, Allison Danzig, Peter Bodo, and Frank Deford. At the same time, he developed a love of music, particularly the blues and Bay Area bands. He would often play the harmonica with the band of the night at school dances and later became an expert on the music of many blues artists, including Buddy Guy and his favorite, B.B. King.

          Alex attended The Thacher School in Ojai, California, where he was part of the school’s horse program — caring for his horse, learning to ride, and taking horse packing trips in the nearby mountains. He earned a bachelor’s degree in history, magna cum laude, from Vanderbilt University. While there, he developed an interest in journalism and wrote about sports in the school daily, The Hustler. Continuing his education, Alex received a Masters of Science in journalism from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism.

         He then moved to Philadelphia to serve as managing editor of Tennis USA and Golf Journal, the official publications of the U.S. Tennis Association and U.S. Golf Association, respectively, both published at the time by Chilton. In 1979, Alex moved to Tennis Magazine in Connecticut as an editor, becoming managing editor in 1982 and editor in 1986. After stepping down as editor, he served as contributing editor and instruction editor of Tennis as well as managing editor of special projects and custom publishing of Golf Digest in the 1990s. During his two decades with Tennis and Golf Digest, both then part of The New York Times magazine group, he was also a contributing writer to The New York Times newspaper. In addition, he wrote articles for Sports Illustrated and Jazziz, together with other tennis and golf publications. Alex published two books: in 1993, The Tennis Doctor, an illustrated guide to tennis; and in 1995, Arthur Ashe On Tennis, co-authored with Tennis Hall of Famer Arthur Ashe, with whom he had worked closely while editor of Tennis.

         After retiring from the magazine business, Alex energetically jumped into other forms of writing and the study of the craft. In Fairfield, his Fairfield Writers Blog, which featured his interviews with well-known authors and posts from other writers, won an award from the Connecticut Press Club. He started and ran three writers programs — a small critique workshop, the popular open mic evenings Writers Read, and the open-ended afternoons of sharing and presentations Writers Rendezvous — pro bono for the Fairfield Public Library. He considered these a success if a member was published. By that criterion, and by the continued popularity of these programs, he succeeded. Alex also participated in a number of workshops throughout Fairfield County. During this time, Alex was busy researching and writing a novel (as yet unpublished), set in an underworld culture in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Like many writers, Alex read both fiction and non-fiction voraciously, along with many magazines and newspapers and later the internet. He also continued to ardently follow professional tennis and golf and listen to his favorite music.

        In his early 40s, Alex met his wife, Diane Melish, through a mutual friend. They remained devoted to each other for nearly 30 years. Married in 1999, they were blessed with two endlessly entertaining golden retrievers who were constant companions. Diane survives him, together with his brothers Jay (Margaret) and Stewart (Nancy), and a niece and three nephews.

       The family would like to thank Dr. Steven Kunkes and his colleagues at Cardiac Specialists for the excellent care they provided Alex for the past 40 years.

       A celebration of Alex’s life will be held at a date to be announced.


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