Obituary: A Television mentor remembered – Nenno, an inspiration to many, dies of cancer

Aug 13, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Stephen Nenno, vice president for program operations for ABC, died July 30 after a long bout with cancer. Mr. Nenno was a stalwart at ABC for more than 33 years.
But Mr. Nenno’s real legacy was a lifetime of mentoring young people who had an interest in the TV business. In recognition of Mr. Nenno’s years of mentoring, the International Radio and Television Society Foundation recently initiated the Stephen K. Nenno Inspirational Fellowship, which will be awarded annually. A national mentoring program on the Internet will also be initiated.
A Web site, www.eyeblab.com/nenno, is filled with tributes to Mr. Nenno posted in the weeks before his death. Here’s a typical posting from the site:
“Dear Steve, I am delighted to thank you for your wonderful contribution to my life and to so many other friends. Every student I’ve recommended contact you has had glowing reports of your hospitality and help. Every time I contacted you, you returned calls with alacrity, friendship, professional insights and a sense you had all the time in the world-despite your large plate of responsibilities.
“Steve, do you remember speaking to my students at Temple back in 1985? They loved you-and you gave of yourself long after that event, returning their calls and always being a friend. I recall at my first IRTS faculty-industry seminar perhaps 20 years ago I knew virtually no one, but you deliberately befriended me. … Indeed, I always felt at home in your presence, Steve. Your unpretentious, inviting spirit always puts others at ease and opens a large world of conversation spiced with humor and insight. Above all thank you for your gifts to students. They are relatively powerless and friendless in the larger-than-life fast-moving industry facing them. But you have served them, acting like an equal and a mentor at the same time. How befitting that a fellowship be named in your honor to which I, like so many of your friends, am most happy to contribute. No doubt you see this Steve Nenno Fellowship as an honor to you. Believe me, Steve, the true honor is knowing you and being part of the large world you have so positively influenced.
“Most respectfully, Dr. Tom Copper, professor, visual and media arts, Emerson College.”
Mr. Nenno wanted no funeral or memorial service. Instead, friends of Mr. Nenno plan to join in an Internet chat session on Aug. 14 at 9:30 p.m. (ET). Sessions are expected to go on every Tuesday at that time for a while. At www.irts.org there will be a link to the chat room.
Contributions in Mr. Nenno’s memory can be made to the fellowship named in his honor by writing to the Steve Nenno Fellowship c/o the IRTS in New York.