Ninette Beaver chose a career in journalism because she was tough and single-minded, said son Edward Beaver.
Those qualities came in handy: As a special correspondent for KMTV in Omaha, she scored an interview with Caril Ann Fugate, who was 14 when she accompanied Charles Starkweather on his late 1950s murder spree through Nebraska and Wyoming. Beaver produced a 1972 NBC News documentary about Fugate, “Growing Up in Prison,” and co-wrote the 1974 book “Caril.”
The longtime newswoman was born and raised in Council Bluffs. She died Sunday after a brief illness at an extended care facility in Sun City, Arizona, where she retired with husband Commodore Beaver. She was 90.
She graduated from St. Mary Academy in Leavenworth, Kan., and earned a bachelor’s degree from Creighton University. She started her career at the Council Bluffs Nonpareil newspaper, said her son, who also lives in Sun City.
Beaver worked for KMTV and NBC for more than 40 years, reporting hundreds of stories. She did shows on the Poor Clare sisters and Cornhusker football for the network and was the co-host of KMTV’s coverage of Pope John Paul II’s visit to Iowa in 1979. She retired in 1991.
Edward Beaver compared his mother to the tireless reporters in movies such as “The Front Page.”
“She was like that — she liked to get her own way. I’m sure that’s why she gravitated to journalism,” he said.
Her work on the Fugate story led to an encounter with rock musician Bruce Springsteen. He called Beaver out of the blue in 1981 when he was working on his album “Nebraska.” The album’s title song is a narrative about the Starkweather killings.
Beaver had never heard of Springsteen, who had already produced five albums to critical acclaim. They talked for a half-hour.
“I asked him about three times to repeat his name,” Beaver told The World-Herald in 1981. “Finally, I asked, ‘And what do you do?’ He said, ‘I’m a musician.’”
He was good-natured about it and offered to send her an album. She told him she would be glad to get it, and would put it alongside her Tommy Dorsey recordings.
Beaver won the Communications Achievement Award from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 1986 and was named to the Omaha Press Club Hall of Fame in 2011.
She met her husband at Creighton, and they married in 1947. He died in 2007.
In addition to her son, her survivors include sister Joanne Cady of Kansas City, Mo.
A funeral service will be Saturday in Sun City.