Woody West - Longtime Washington newspaperman and former executive editor of The Washington Times - 1934-2004;

Woody West died Saturday at his home in Hagerstown, Md., of lung cancer.

"It was my privilege to work with and share a cherished friendship with Woody West for more than 40 years. As we toiled together in the newsroom of the old Washington Star, his zeal to pursue every story, get it right, report it fairly and inform readers with graceful, uncluttered prose became hallmarks of all that he was called upon to write and to edit."
- WESLEY PRUDEN Editor in Chief of The Times

Attribtution: Washington Times

Woody West, 70, a former editorial writer at the old Washington Star and executive editor at the Washington Times, died May 1 at his home in Hagerstown, Md. He had lung cancer.

Mr. West spent 20 years with the Star, which folded in 1981. He started at the Washington Times as an editorial writer in late 1982, six months after its founding. He became managing editor in 1983 and then executive editor, the newspaper's top editor, from 1985 to 1986.

Mr. West told The Washington Post that his decision to leave the executive editorship was based on the all-consuming nature of the job. "After two or three years of six- and seven-day weeks, I'm simply running out of gas, and I don't want to have a cardiac," he said.

He added, "Now I'm going to sit on the porch and read, go out and scare a few geese in the winter."

Since 1986, he held the title of associate editor and worked part time. He edited the weekly Civil War page and served on the committee overseeing the Sunday books pages, choosing books for review and matching them with reviewers.

Wesley Pruden, the paper's editor in chief, said Mr. West took particular delight in his duties with the Civil War page, a job requiring intricate knowledge and immense diplomacy.

In short, Pruden said, "you get a number for a regiment wrong and you hear about it."

He added that Mr. West meted out favorable and unfavorable coverage of Union and Confederate forces with equanimity, maintaining the great journalism tradition that both sides "were happy and dissatisfied in equal numbers."

Mr. West was a native of Helena, Mont., and a history graduate of American University. He served in the Marine Corps from 1954 to 1957. Early in his career, he was a reporter in Nebraska at the Lincoln Star and the Omaha World-Herald.

He settled in the Washington area in the early 1960s as a reporter at the Star. After the Star ceased publication, he briefly was a Washington-based editorial writer for the Milwaukee Journal.

Attribution: © 2004 The Washington Post Company

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