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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, June 20, 2003

Asa Baber, Playboy columnist

Advertiser News Services


Asa Baber, whose long-running "Men" column in Playboy magazine addressed an array of issues from a distinctly male perspective when it was unfashionable to do so, has died. He was 66.

Baber died Monday in a Chicago hospital after a two-year battle with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's disease. His last Playboy column ran in the June issue.

Launched in April 1982, Baber's "Men" column became one of the magazine's best-read features, offering his sometimes humorous, sometimes poignant essays on issues such as sports, sexuality, divorce, male-bashing, employment, personal identity and personal values.

From 1969 to 1975, Baber was an English professor at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa.

Baber was a onetime Marine Corps captain who served in covert operations in Laos in the early 1960s. He frequently tapped his own experiences for his 850-word essays — from writing about his angry father to the breakup of his first marriage and losing custody of his two sons.

In the process, Baber became known as a champion of men's liberation.

"He was a pioneer in saying there were men's issues, and he also told men not to hide from their issues," said Arthur Kretchmer, who recently retired after a long career as Playboy's editorial director.

Baber's column, Kretchmer said, "helped a lot of guys deal with things that men think of as weaknesses: depression, the pain of divorce, the pain of unemployment, the pain of rejection."

In one column, Kretchmer recalled, "He said the first lesson all boys should be taught is how to deal with rejection because to be a man you've got to expose yourself many times: You've got to ask for everything, from work to love, and you will be rejected."

Baber is survived by his sons, Brendan and Jim; his fiancee, Sherri Stubbs; and his sister, Dorothy.