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Teddye Clayton, Managing Editor of Psychiatric Services, Retires
John A. TAlbott, M.D.
Psychiatric Services 2000; doi: 10.1176/appi.ps.51.7.950
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On June 30th, 2000, Teddye Clayton, managing editor of Psychiatric Services, retired after 31 years at the journal. For the scores of authors, reviewers, editors, and staff members she dealt with on a regular basis, Teddye was in many ways the voice and face of the journal. She was the person we all called when we needed advice about a contribution to the journal we were contemplating writing, asked to revise, or in the process of reviewing. For all of us, Teddye's departure will be sorely felt. A dinner honoring her was held in May at the APA annual meeting, and many of us paid tribute to her in written comments, some of which are excerpted here.

Raised in Arkansas, Teddye began her career as a journalist, working on the staff of the Houston Post in the 1960s. During her time in Houston, she wrote an article for the Post featuring psychiatrist Alex Pokorny, who was a member of the editorial board of Hospital and Community Psychiatry from 1972 to 1978. Alex noted that she was a prolific and careful features writer for the Post, and he recalled with great affection her article about reading to children that featured his family.

Teddye came to Washington and the American Psychiatric Association in 1969, and in a five-year period made a rapid ascent from assistant editor to senior assistant editor to managing editor. Don Hammersley, who as associate medical director of the APA also oversaw the journal, noted that the journal's first managing editor, Pat Vosburgh, immediately recognized Teddye's "skill and vibrancy." "Everyone was delighted to have her join the staff," he recalled. He had no difficulty making a decision about who should become managing editor when the vacancy occurred in 1974. Pokorny commented on how impressed the editorial board was with her "competence, her efficiency, and her executive and organizational skills. …She got things done and yet maintained pleasant, friendly, and understanding relationships with all of us," he noted.

Hammersley, on his part, was impressed that "there was a cohesion in the work effort to maintain and improve the product and to show the authors to their best advantage with sensitive and intelligent editing and stylistic improvement." Teddye was firm and consistent in her leadership and, if need be, would disagree with a decision or policy that could have adversely affected the journal or employee morale.

I can add that she is never rash, but she is quick to defend what's right; she is never blind, and she quickly grasps what is the real issue; and she is never obsessive, always seeking the win-win solution to the most complex problems. She has never tolerated sloppy writing, never put up with devious politics, and never folded her hand when the chips were down.

Both Don Hammersley and Lucy Ozarin, also a former member of the editorial board, noted how Teddye shepherded the journal through its transitions: from a low-tech publication mainly serving the staffs of state hospitals to a highly sophisticated journal featuring the leading edge of health services research; at first focusing solely on mental hospitals, then taking a wider view of both hospital and community psychiatric settings, and now highlighting psychiatric services in their broadest sense.

Betty Cochran, assistant managing editor, who has been on the staff during Teddye's entire tenure, stated quite simply that "she's the best editor I know." Betty shares Teddye's commitment to making the journal's content as clear and readable as possible and noted that Teddye's newspaper background led to her insistence on clarity.

I think it is also important to add that Teddye was a positive presence in the American Psychiatric Association. She believed strongly that the primary mission of APA and its journals is the care and treatment of persons with mental illness, and she spoke to that goal at every opportunity. In addition, she was active in the staff cabinet and was regularly consulted about problems by staff from all APA departments. Teddye never hesitated to take on "management" when she sensed injustice. Herb Gant, a colleague and managing editor of Psychiatric News from 1968 to 1999, described her as the "last of the warrior class that once roamed the halls of the APA."

Teddye Clayton was a remarkable person to pass through APA and to manage the journal. She gave so much, never expecting praise herself; she worked incredible hours and double jobs, never expecting acknowledgment; she helped countless of us, never asking anything in return.

My relationship with Teddye has been one of constant learning. I thought I knew something about editing and writing and even administration when I began to work with her, but I was wrong. Teddye demonstrates such a combination of quiet competence and quick verbal intelligence, of focus and compromise, and of skill and flexibility that I was always amazed at how much she brought to the table on every issue we dealt with together. She has been an absolute joy to work with, and I do not know how we will get along without her.

All of us— editors, staff, authors, and reviewers— salute her and wish her the best at this transition point in her life. Truly one of a kind, she will be sorely missed.




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