Times lyricist Francis X. Clines dies at 84

After his release, he applied for a job at The Times and was hired largely on the basis of an essay he submitted detailing his hopes for a career as a journalist. After a year of desk work, he wrote radio newscasts for WQXR, The Times AM and FM stations, and then covered police beats and general assignments.

His marriage to Kathleen Conniff in 1960 ended in divorce in the early 1990s. He married Mrs Mitchell in 1995, when she was City Hall Bureau Chief for The Times, the two s being met when she was Moscow bureau chief for Newsday.

In addition to Mrs. Mitchell, he is survived by his first wife; four children from his first marriage, John, Kevin, Michael and Laura Clines; and a sister, Eileen Lawrence. another sister, Peggy Meehan Simon has passed away.

There are plenty of ways to de-emphasize, which is one of the reasons Mr. Clines loved covering the Albany State Legislature. Beyond the drumbeat of new laws and proposed taxes, he dissected the mores of less lighthearted lawmakers with a Celtic sense of the absurd: their exaggerated rhetoric about public service, their coarse eating habits during debates, their losing fights with the mother tongue – all were fair game and duly reported.

“I think he was the best newspaper writer of our time,” Charles Kaiser, a former Times reporter, said in a recent email. “Its success says more about the newspaper’s commitment to beautiful writing than anything else.”

Mr. Clines once wrote an article in the New York Times Magazine about Seamus Heaney, the Irish poet, who may have been a sort of self-disclosure, saying: “He fights to keep things basic, to remember the simple wisdom of Finn MacCool. , mythical national hero of Ireland, that the best music in the world is the music of what is happening. In his ‘Elegy’, dedicated to Lowell, Heaney recalled:

‘The way we live,

Timorous or daring,

Will have been our life.