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John Walter

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ATLANTA: John Walter, dedicated newsman

By KIRSTEN TAGAMI

John Walter, former executive editor of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, died Thursday at Mercy Hospital in Springfield, Mass., from complications from surgery. He was 61.

Mr. Walter moved to Martha's Vineyard in 2002, where he edited and published the Vineyard Gazette, and in 2005 opened a custom book publishing company, Vineyard Stories, with his wife of more than 20 years, Jan Pogue.

Mr. Walter met Ms. Pogue when he was her editor at the Baltimore News-American. Seven years later, after both had left the newspaper, he finally asked her out. After they married, family always came first for Mr. Walter, she said. "You can't really ask for more than that in a husband," Ms. Pogue said.

Mr. Walter was born in Cleveland on Feb. 10, 1947. His journalism career began at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., where he edited the student newspaper, then moved to the Pacific Daily News, in Guam, in 1972.

He went on to work in editor roles in Ithaca, N.Y., Washington and Baltimore before becoming a founding editor of USA Today in 1982. He was the AJC's managing editor and executive editor from 1989 to 2002.

"What I enjoyed most about working with John was the passion and excitement he brought to any story we might be working on," said James Mallory, the AJC's senior managing editor and vice president for news. "His enthusiasm was contagious, and it came through in many of the stories this paper produced during his tenure here."

Mr. Walter helped to build the AJC's coverage of the 1996 Olympics and oversaw its investigations into poverty in Georgia.

"He was a very bright, very aggressive editor and very creative," said Don Boykin, a retired AJC executive who was deputy managing editor under Walter. "He wanted to give readers something beyond the predictable."

Survivors include his wife; their children Alexander Pogue of Boston, Lily Walter of northern California, and Christian Walter of Martha's Vineyard; step-mother Betty Walter of Cleveland, and sister Rosemary Giesser of North Olmsted, Ohio.

The body was cremated. A memorial service is planned for noon, Oct. 4, on Long Point Beach on Martha's Vineyard.



© 2008 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sept. 14, 2008
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