Beloved journalist Michael J. Feeney passes
Florence Anthony | 2/12/2016, 3:36 p.m.
Monday, Feb. 8, hundreds of people who loved and admired award-winning journalist Michael J. Feeney, including his mother, Reba D. Willis, and many other family members, dignitaries such as Rev. Al Sharpton and state Sen. Bill Perkins, along with media stars Elinor Tatum, David Ushery, Janice Huff, Mara Schiavocampo and Alicia Quarles, Apollo Theater executive Nina Flowers, reality star Geneva Thomas, faculty members and classmates from Delaware State University and Feeney’s Alpha Phi Alpha brothers, gathered at First Corinthian Baptist Church in Harlem to celebrate this magnificent young man’s too short but powerful life.
Feeney, 32, went on to glory Sunday, Jan. 31 at the Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, N.J., following complications from a staph infection in his kidneys.
A true journalist with a keen eye for a story, the name Michael Feeney first came to my attention in 2010, when he wrote a cover story in the New York Daily News about New York Times bestselling author Teri Woods filing a $1 billion lawsuit against 1 Oak NYC for racism after managers of the club allegedly refused to let in many of her African-American friends, who were at the club to attend her book party. From then on, I saw his byline in the Daily News consistently.
We finally met at an Apollo Theater gala later that year. By then, Feeney had advanced to being the paper’s uptown bureau chief. He now had his own section. However, he told me that he wanted to follow in my footsteps and write entertainment. I advised him to stick with the hard news and the entertainment reporting would follow. Later that same year, he won the NABJ Emerging Journalist of the Year Award. In 2011, Feeney received first place for Print Personal Commentary.
Feeney achieved his goal of becoming an entertainment reporter, and he was just about to begin a job at CNN in Atlanta when he fell ill.
Many of Feeney’s awards and proclamations surrounded him as he laid in front of the church. At Monday’s service, Huff called Feeney “a shining star.” Perkins asked Kary “Korey” Wise of the Central Park Five to stand up, saying that Feeney’s coverage of these young men’s harrowing plight led to them being awarded a settlement from New York City. Amsterdam News staff member Cyril Josh Barker, who was one of Feeney’s closest friends, read a letter from President Barack Obama to Feeney’s mom.
While delivering the eulogy, the Rev. Michael A. Waldrond Jr. pointed out all Feeney gave to everyone and how much he invested in everyone and everything that came his way. I guess God needed another angel to sit by his side in heaven. The service was followed by a loving repast at Mist.
“I’ve always tried to live my life to the fullest and not take anything, anyone or any day for granted. I will continue to live in such a way. Tomorrow is not guaranteed to anyone. … If you’re chasing your dream, keep working hard. It will pay off. I’m proof.”—Michael Jonathan Feeney