Roy Parker Jr., founding editor of The Fayetteville (NC) Times and my first boss, has passed away at the age of 83. I learned about it from a post by my former colleague Seth Effron on Facebook. I'm very saddened by this news. I followed Seth into the position of Roy's assistant, and he was a great boss, giving me freedom to cover a wide variety of topics and to write editorials, always accenting the positive in his reviews of my work. He was a good teacher and mentor, and I think of him often. I wish I weren't so far away and could attend his service.I was in awe of his ability to pound out, in about two hours, three well-written editorials on almost any topic -- from politics to international, national and local history to birding and bicycling -- and of his deep connections within the community and throughout the state of North Carolina. He also had a talent for expressing political disagreement without being disagreeable, frequently looking for areas of agreement with those who had a different ideology.
Penny Muse Abernathy's inspiring UNC Journalism School tribute "from the heart" is here. Obituary here, linked to some great Facebook comments from journalists far and wide. Gene Smith, the Observer's senior editorial writer, offers a fine character sketch of Roy, titled "What Made Roy Run? Progress, Mostly."
There's a wonderful Fayetteville Observer editorial tribute here, describing Roy as a "restless man," quoting Thomas Edison: "Restlessness is discontent," Thomas Edison wrote, "and discontent is the first necessity of progress. Show me a thoroughly satisfied man, and I will show you a failure."
And yet Roy's life is a testimonial to the notion of staying in one place, developing deep roots and committing oneself to a community. He had lived and worked in Fayetteville since 1973, made frequent trips to the legislature in Raleigh and the university in Chapel Hill, and cast long shadows in all three places. Few of us will make such a deep mark.
At this time, I especially remember Roy's irreverant remark that journalism may not pay very well, the hours may be long and hard, but after a long career, you can be sure "you'll get a great obituary." In Roy's case, every word of tribute is well-deserved.