- Associated Press - Monday, July 20, 2015

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Duncan Mansfield, a veteran reporter whose 20-year career as Knoxville, Tennessee, correspondent for The Associated Press included coverage of a massive coal ash spill from a Tennessee Valley Authority power plant, has died. He was 62.

Gentry Griffey Funeral Chapel said he died Thursday.

An obituary in the Knoxville News-Sentinel says he died of pancreatic cancer.

Mansfield served as AP’s Knoxville correspondent from 1989 to 2009, focusing on breaking news and enterprise in east Tennessee. He was the news cooperative’s last correspondent in Knoxville when AP eliminated the position in 2009.

In all, he worked about 24 years for AP with earlier assignments in Boston and Columbia, South Carolina. He also worked as a business editor and political editor for the Lansing State Journal in Michigan.

“Duncan was a strong writer who took great care to make sure he thoroughly understood what he was writing about, particularly the environment and the Smoky Mountains,” said Adam Yeomans, AP’s regional director of the South.

As a single-person AP correspondent covering a wide region, Mansfield often worked with little direction, using his initiative and commitment to pursue the region’s most compelling stories and explain them to a worldwide audience, Yeomans said.

Mansfield juggled both spot news demands and deeper enterprise coverage, from major disasters such as the 2008 massive coal ash spill at TVA’s power plant west of Knoxville to the death of moonshiner Marvin “Popcorn” Sutton in 2009.

The coal ash spill happened when a containment dike burst at the TVA’s Kingston Fossil Plant, releasing more than 5 million cubic yards of ash from a storage pond. The sludge flowed into a river and spoiled hundreds of acres in a riverside community 35 miles west of Knoxville.

“He was first and foremost a newsman,” his wife, Vivian Vega, told the Knoxville News Sentinel. “That was everything to him - being a reporter, being a good writer. It was everything he was.”

Mansfield most recently served as a public relations consultant and editor at TVA.

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