News and Sentinel’s Executive Editor James C. Smith dies at 65

PARKERSBURG -James C. Smith, 65, the executive editor of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel, died Wednesday at his home in Parkersburg.

“Jim’s death came as a shock to all of us at The News and Sentinel and we send our condolences to his wife, Mary Ann, his daughter, Susan, his mother and his two grandsons whom he adored,” said Jim Spanner, publisher of The Parkersburg News and Sentinel. “Jim was a lifelong journalist and we remember him as a true newspaperman.”

A 42-year veteran of the newspaper industry, Smith served as editor of five newspapers.

After a couple of years as the city editor of the Delaware (Ohio) Gazette and nine years as the crime editor at the former Columbus Citizen-Journal, he was named editor of the Piqua Daily Call in western Ohio.

He was named editor of The Herald-Star in Steubenville, Ohio, in 1984 and later went to The Review in East Liverpool, Ohio, before heading south to become editor of The Daily Iberian in New Iberia, La., in 1996.

Smith came to The Parkersburg News and Sentinel on June 25, 2001.

“This is a sad day for the West Virginia newspaper industry,” said Don Smith, executive director of the West Virginia Press Association. “Jim was a veteran journalist and a strong leader.

“In newsrooms around this state, and far beyond, there are reporters and editors who learned this profession working for Jim Smith. Jim and I worked together for Ogden Newspapers and with the West Virginia Press Association. You could always count on Jim Smith for a strong opinion, a good laugh and a word of encouragement. He will be missed in his newsroom, his community, this state and the newspaper industry.”

Smith was a member of several Masonic organizations, the Elks, a former member of the Parkersburg Salvation Army board, on a West Virginia University at Parkersburg advisory board and the Parkersburg Lions Club Board of Directors. He also was chairman for several years of the Freedom of Information Committee for the West Virginia Press Association.

Tim Brunicardi, director of marketing and public affairs at the Camden Clark Medical Center, remembered Smith as a friend and a newspaperman.

“I had the pleasure of knowing Jim both professionally and personally,” he said. “As a journalist and editor, he was a consummate professional. He was fair but firm when it came to soliciting material for an article.”

Brunicardi described Smith as a “close friend and a fellow Lion.”

“I’ll miss seeing him every Thursday at the Parkersburg Lions Club meetings,” he said. “I’ll always remember him being passionate about his profession, his family and equally passionate about the Ohio State Buckeyes and Pittsburgh Pirates.

“Neither the Lions Club nor The Parkersburg News will be able to replace Jim. Moreover, our community has suffered a great loss as well,” Brunicardi said.

Parkersburg Mayor Bob Newell said he has been on “both sides of Jim Smith.”

“We have had some lively conversations, but we were able to remain friends,” he said. “We would have lunch a couple times a year.”

Newell said Smith was honest, but not biased. The mayor also appreciated the editor’s professionalism.

Smith was a police reporter in the 1970s and Newell was a police officer at that time, so they regularly shared stories about that period and how much police work has changed since then.

Being mayor can make someone a lightning rod in the community, Newell said of people who were ready to praise or criticize his efforts.

“Jim was very supportive when we were doing something right,” Newell said. “He did not play favorites. He stood his ground, but at the end of the day you would remain friends with him.

“He really was a good person. He will be hard to replace,” Newell said.

Funeral arrangements are being planned and will be announced by Kimes Funeral Home in Parkersburg.