Elsie B. Washington, a former associate editor of Newsweek, onetime writer forEssence magazine and a novelist, died Tuesday, May 5 in a Bronx, N.Y., geriatrichome after battling multiple sclerosis and cancer, her brother, James E.Peterson, told Journal-isms.
She was 66.
A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel writer called Washington "the mother of theAfrican-American romance" after she wrote "Entwined Destinies"while working as a business reporter for Newsweek. That book's publicationby Dell Candlelight Romances in 1980"laid the groundwork for all theethnic romances to follow," Katherine Wikoff wrote in the Milwaukee paper.Washington used the pseudonym Rosalind Welles.
A 1983 piece for Newsweek blended her two identities. "Everyone knows Cupid has wings. But last week he sprouted wheels to carry 40 romance authorsfrom Los Angeles to New York for the second annual Romantic Book Lovers'Conference," an editor's note began. "NEWSWEEK Associate EditorElsie B. Washington, a.k.a. romance writer Rosalind Welles, boarded the LoveTrain to record the ecstasy and the agony of crossing 11 sensuous states, 10rushing rivers and 4 torrid time zones."
She also wrote from the UnitedNations and authored the "Periscope" column. At the time of Wikoff's 1996 piece, Washington was a writer in the San Francisco schools with a long career in the New York publishing industry behindher. She had moved to Oakland, Calif., "to be with my lifelong love of 17years," a jazz musician.
Later in 1996, she released her first nonfiction book, "Uncivil War
"Washington worked at Essence in late 1980s and early 1990s, sharing themasthead with such luminaries as Susan L. Taylor, Valerie Wilson Wesley, Audrey Edwards, Diane Weathers, Linda Villarosa, Benilde Little, Harriette Cole and Michaela Angela Davis, all of whom were together in the front-of-the- booklisting of January 1993.
Services are scheduled for 9 a.m. Saturday at New Hope for All Saints/St.Peters Bronx, 585 E. 163 St., Bronx, N.Y.