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Former AA News sports writer John Beckett dies

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by slappy4428, Oct 8, 2009.

  1. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    He was a colleague and a friend. Died of congestive heart failure at 59.
    Lot of people on this board worked with him....

  2. crusoes

    crusoes Active Member

    I did the obit on John for my paper.
    He had a heart attack on August 20, the last of several, and a couple of weeks ago told his wife it was time. He died at home 11 days later, on Tuesday.
    John had a lot of stories, told in a raspy voice made that way by cigarettes. He quit a month before his death.
    He was working on a novel, starting it in May but was not able to finish. His wife said it had 75 chapters with 10 to go. "Seventy-five?" I asked. She chuckled.
    I asked about their courtship and she laughed again. "He was persistent," she said. Apparently she had told him no a couple of times before giving in. They were married 35 years despite his frequent health problems.
    He started out at a radio station in Howell, MI, where my paper is, and one of his coworkers was Arthur Penhallow, who worked at WRIF in Detroit doing afternoon drive for more than 30 years. He later moved to newspapers and worked at the weekly Brighton Argus and moved to the Ann Arbor News in 1979.
    He worked for my paper a while after he retired from the News for health reasons eight years ago, but he left after about two months and did some freelance for us until we parted amicably, professionally, in 2004.
    John was not a big man, physically. He was about 5-4 and maybe weighed 150, but he was a giant as a writer and raconteur. He had stories all day, and most of them entertaining.
    He had three children, a girl and two boys, and became a grandfather seven months ago and delighted in his granddaughter.
    John was no plaster saint. He had his faults, which are of no consequence now. He was a man, a journalist, and we are the poorer for his passing.

    I had to write two obits today, one about a golf coach who was a lot like John. Same sense of humor, same hearty laugh, same respect among their peers. Both died Tuesday after long, full lives.

    No link yet. Won't be on my paper's website until 5 a.m., I believe. I won't be up until long after then. Check out www.livingstondaily.com, go to sports and poke around. There are only three stories there.
  3. crusoes

    crusoes Active Member

    I woke up early.

  4. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Good stuff, bud... wish it didn't have to be written...
  5. clutchcargo

    clutchcargo Active Member

    Didn't know the man, but he sure sounds like somebody I would have loved to have met. God bless, John.
  6. TwoGloves

    TwoGloves Well-Known Member

    Wow. I knew John. So sad.
  7. slappy4428

    slappy4428 Active Member

    Somewhere, Bill Frieder is hitting on 15 and driving the speed limit in Beckett's honor...
  8. Songbird

    Songbird Well-Known Member

    Condolences to John Beckett's family and friends and colleagues.
  9. Hank_Scorpio

    Hank_Scorpio Active Member

    Nice article. Like slappy said, wish it didn't have to be written. He was one of the first people I met in this business.
  10. WolvEagle

    WolvEagle Active Member

    My condolences to his family. I worked with him, too. He got a kick out of it when I told him I bought his book on U-M basketball's 1989 championship run - in a mall bookstore about 20 miles from Ann Arbor.

    He always treated me well, and I know that he loved his family very much. He was a good journalist and a good man.

    RIP, John.
  11. WolvEagle

    WolvEagle Active Member

    Another couple memories:

    When U-M had its 20-year celebration of the 1989 team last season, I brought in my copy of "Mission Accomplished!" and loaned it to the reporter. Though John had left The News many years before, his work still made a difference. (Too bad The News won't have a 25-year story - thanks to the Newhouse SOBs.)

    I don't remember the exact line, but I remember the different approach he took to writing a column about the annual Dexter-Ann Arbor Run. When the runners leave Huron River Drive and turn right, they go to southbound Main Street, just south of the M-14 exit. It's a steady uphill climb for about a mile to the finish line in downtown AA. Several runners said that last push was just brutal. John said his car never complained on the way to work. It was a great way to compare an athlete's view to a common person's view - and gave that much more credence to what the athletes were saying. It made the reader think about that hill.

    John was very good at finding the human angle of a story. He was a heck of a journalist and a heck of a person. RIP, John. You will be missed.
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