- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Ronald L. Speer, 72, Pulitzer-winning editor

NORFOLK (AP) — Ronald L. Speer, a longtime journalist and award-winning editor for the Virginian-Pilot, died Sept. 26. He was 72.

Mr. Speer was the primary editor for the Pilot’s 1985 Pulitzer Prize for general news reporting.

Mr. Speer, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease, had been at a rehabilitation center near Philadelphia since he became seriously ill last summer.

Born in Nebraska, Mr. Speer discovered that he loved writing stories as a public information officer in the Army. When he left the service, he went into newspaper work.

Working for the Associated Press in Atlanta, Mr. Speer covered Henry Aaron’s assault on Babe Ruth’s career home run record and the civil rights movement.

When Mr. Speer went to work for the St. Petersburg Times in Florida, he fell in love with the sea. In 1977, he joined the Ledger-Star of Norfolk, then the afternoon sister paper to the Pilot, after answering an ad seeking an old pro to work in the “Sunbelt by the Sea.”

“Ron was a gifted writer, an inspiring editor and a true friend,” said Kay Tucker Addis, who retired recently as the Pilot’s editor and vice president. “He brought words — and a newsroom — to life with his talent and his exuberance.”

“It’s a great day for the race,” he’d often say in his booming voice.

“What race?” his friends would ask.

“The human race,” Mr. Speer would reply.

Tom Turcol, a reporter with the Philadelphia Inquirer, was working under Mr. Speer when his examination of the spending practices of Chesapeake’s economic development director won a Pulitzer Prize.

“Working for him was the most rewarding experience in my entire career,” Mr. Turcol said.

Mr. Speer is survived by two children and two stepchildren.


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