During his long and crowded career, Mr. Zink was employed as entertainment editor, columnist, critic and reporter at each of South Florida's major newspapers — The South Florida Sun-Senintel, The Miami Herald, The Palm Beach Post & Evening Times, The Fort Lauderdale News. He also wrote steadily for Variety since the late '70s.
He was the founder and a past president of the Carbonell Awards, the annual honors that recognize excellence in South Florida theatre. He served as executive producer of the annual award ceremony in recent years. He was also a past president of The American Theatre Critics' Association. During his career, Mr. Zink was a recipient of the Sun-Sentinel newspaper's highest award, The Fred Pettijohn Award, given annually to the publication's top reporters; and of South Florida's George Abbott Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts.
He was born John Charles Zink on March 7, 1947, in Lorain, OH, to Charles and Rosemary Zink. He was nicknamed Jack for an uncle fighter pilot who was shot down over the Pacific during World War II. He received a bachelor's degree in journalism from Ohio State University in 1969. He was from 1969 to 1971 the Broward Lively Arts Editor of the Miami Herald; from 1971-80 the Fort Lauderdale News Entertainment Editor; and from 1983 to 1985 the Entertainment Editor of the Palm Beach Post & Evening Times. He became Variety's South Florida correspondent in 1977.
Elizabeth Maupin, theatre critic for The Orlando Sentinel told Playbill.com, "Jack was a gentleman and a gentle man. I knew him for 20 years or so, both because we did similar jobs for sister papers and through our work together for the American Theatre Critics Association. He worked harder than anybody —writing at various times about movies, popular music, clubs and opera and spending his last years as both theatre and classical music critic for the Sun Sentinel. He volunteered his time in innumerable ways — as president of the Foundation of the American Theatre Critics Association, as senior warden of his Episcopal church. And he turned out copy like crazy.
"Jack was a tall, skinny, soft-spoken man with a gleam in his eye. He was always kind, always upbeat and always encouraging to a fellow critic. Like me, he was an Ohioan (we actually worked for the same small paper early in our careers, although not at the same time), one of three Ohio-born theatre critics for big Florida papers. I last saw him in May in New York, along with Christine Dolen, another Ohioan and the theatre critic for the Miami Herald. He was not well at all, but he was just as gracious and as interested in everything around him as he always had been. "We Ohioans will miss him, and so will all the theatre lovers who were accustomed for so long to depending on his words."
Lawrence DeVine, former theatre critic at The Detroit Free Press, who has roots in South Florida journalism, and who worked with Zink at ATCA, told Playbill.com, "He was one of the old Old Guard in South Florida journalism, in Fort Lauderale and around Broward County. Jack was as much a part of the arts scene in that sunny place as the stage boards and the lighted marquees and the out of the way places he would go to nurture some new talent. He was an honest professional and a fine, fine human being."
He is survived by Cynthia Williamson-Zink, a nurse with Hospice of Southeast Florida, and five children.
In leiu of flowers, donations may be made to either St. Ambrose Episcopal Church at 2250 SW 31st Avenue Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312 or to the Carbonell Awards at Carbonell Awards Inc., P.O. Box 14211, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33302-4211.
A memorial service open to the public will take place at the Parker Playhouse on Aug. 25 at 3 PM. The Parker Playhouse is located at 707 N.E. Eighth Street in Fort Lauderdale.