2017-10-25 / Front Page

John Douglas, longtime news editor, dies at 70

John T. Douglas, the former editor of The Morgan Messenger and Hancock News, died at his Berkeley Springs home surrounded by family on Thursday, October 19 at the age of 70.

The father of two and grandfather of four had served as a reporter and then editor of the papers between 1974 and 2013, when he retired from the news business.

Douglas was an award winning mystery novelist and historian, an expert on blues music and avid supporter of local libraries and the arts.

Douglas was born and raised in Cumberland, attended college at Western Maryland College and spent several years as a school teacher in Baltimore before moving to Morgan County.

He and his first wife raised their twin sons on family property in Doe Gully that dated back to the time of George Washington.

Douglas’ book, At the Springs with George, was a history of the first president’s travels and connections to this area.

Douglas had been named a History Hero by the state of West Virginia.

During his four-decade career as a journalist, Douglas won numerous newspaper awards both in West Virginia and nationally for his editorials, investigative stories, coverage of crime and trials, feature stories and headline news.

Douglas’ news writing was published in The Washington

Post and he was a contributor to other publications, including several blues music and history magazines.

As editor of The Messenger and The News, Douglas repeatedly fought for the public to have free access to government meetings and decision-making. He also took strong stances against local plans that posed a risk to residents or the county, like a medical waste plant. Douglas also pushed for subdivision regulations in Morgan County and for upgrades to local utilities. He took pride in writing strong editorials and reminding elected officials of their duties to constituents and taxpayers.

During his newspaper career, Douglas covered major floods and several murders.

Since retirement, Douglas traveled and continued to organize fundraising events for Morgan County Public Library and concerts with local arts councils.

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