Neil Bibler, former Associated Press news editor, dies at 81

Neil Bibler, a news editor and reporter for The Associated Press during a 33-year career that included stints in several Western states before settling in Arizona, has died. He was 81.

Bibler had health issues associated with age, but the cause of death was not immediately known, said Susan Coutin, one of his two daughters.

Bibler died Tuesday at his home in the Phoenix suburb of Ahwatukee.

Born in 1936 in Riverside, California, William Neil Bibler an showed interest in newspapers while growing up in Fort Worth, Texas. He later went on to study at the University of Arkansas, where he earned a master's degree in speech and drama. He worked briefly as a professor in those subjects in Magnolia, Arkansas, Coutin said.

After a friend working for The Associated Press encouraged Bibler to apply for a job with the company, he was offered a reporting position in the Helena, Montana, bureau in 1968. Over the next decade, Bibler worked in bureaus in Seattle, Cleveland and San Francisco.

Bibler relocated to the San Francisco bureau in 1977 to help start up the Associated Press's new education wire. It was a news feed for schools that offered supplemental resources such as discussion questions. "He was really excited because it combined his interests in journalism and education," Coutin said.

In 1979, Bibler moved his family to Phoenix to become that bureau's news editor, a position he held until 1991. He then was an evening news supervisor until his retirement in 2001.

Bibler is survived by two daughters, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.