Our 50th Year Icon

The most important December in Sun history is, well, this one: the month in which Sy Safransky, after fifty years of laboring to put out the magazine he founded, steps away from his desk and becomes, deservingly, editor emeritus.

The improbable story of how he started the magazine on a budget of practically nothing — briefly recounted in his note in this issue — is likely familiar to longtime Sun readers. Many will also be acquainted with his struggle to sustain The Sun through uncertain times, a journey charted in numerous fundraising letters, editorial notes, and installments of “Sy Safransky’s Notebook.” Likewise his personal struggles — with being a father, a husband, a son, a citizen, an editor with too much work on his desk, a man awake before dawn with a stack of unpaid bills and an ache in his heart — have always found expression in the magazine. (Readers who wish to follow that journey, or take it again, are encouraged to visit our website, where all of Sy’s writing is available.)

What more is there to say about someone who’s lived his life openly on the page for so long? How do you express genuine admiration and gratitude and not have it turn into hagiography? Sy himself once wrote that The Sun — this collective, magical experience we share each month — “uses words to celebrate the wordless, knowing that words will always fall short.” But that didn’t stop him from trying. In a 1997 letter to readers, Sy recounted Mother Teresa’s observation that we can’t do great things; we can only do small things with great love. It’s as good a description as any for his life’s work: a sustained act of love, expressed over and over again.