For two readers, The N&O was a friend to the end

July 5, 2009 

John Drescher on The Editors' Blog:

Two faithful readers passed away recently with The N&O on their minds near the end of their lives.

The first was Sen. Vernon Malone of Raleigh, who died in April. Malone, 77, died on a Saturday after mowing his lawn and relaxing with his daily newspaper. That prompted various jokes when his friends and family gathered to honor him. "Saint Peter reached out and grabbed Vernon's hand, and the last thing he saw was The News & Observer," Gov. Beverly Perdue said during a service honoring Malone. Perdue said that image made her "just guffaw." Insert your own joke here.

Another loyal N&O reader, Russell Buxton III of Cary, died recently. Buxton, 74, had been ill in recent years but was determined to make it to his 50th wedding anniversary on June 21, The N&O's Ruth Sheehan reported. He made it. He died June 24.

When his children were younger, Buxton used The N&O to stimulate debate at the dinner table. He would clip out an editorial or opinion column, especially those opposing his children's views. Then he would ask his son and daughter to argue the other side.

His wife, JoAnn, told Sheehan: "Russell was always willing to share his views but he was particularly vocal during the last six months." Which might explain the note he wrote me about three weeks ago. He said The N&O was soft. "The N&O used to be a hard-hitting paper on Democrats as well as Republicans on exposing where money goes when it shouldn't go there, abuses of power, etc.," he wrote. "I wish you would get back your edge."

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