Everyone who worked with Jimmy Ezzell remembers him as an old-time newspaperman who always enjoyed the pursuit of a good story.
“He was the only newsman I ever knew who could get just as excited about county budget negotiations as a massive train wreck,” recalled Roy Chalker, the publisher of The True Citizen in Waynesboro.
“He was a news junkie – just couldn’t get enough,” Chalker said.
Ezzell, 79, who also held editing positions at The Augusta Chronicle, died Monday at University Hospital surrounded by his family.
“Anybody who worked with Jimmy knew he had an unlimited appetite for the news,” Chalker said. “I can remember him telling me many times how he waited to hear the paper hit his doorstep and how many times he had to complain when it wasn’t on time. His enthusiasm for news-gathering provided a true inspiration for young reporters who were just learning their craft.”
“Jimmy Ezzell was a true old-school newspaper man, a newsprint-and-ink newspaper man, with a passion for journalism,” said Barry Paschal, the publisher of the Columbia County News-Times, who worked with Ezzell to start The Post, a weekly in North Augusta.
“He had a big heart and a soft spot for young reporters, and while he could be tough and demanding, you always knew it was because he was so serious about his craft – about getting the story and getting it right.”
“His greatest talent as a boss was the personal interest he took in each of his reporters,” said Deborah Jackson, now an editor at the Raleigh News & Observer. “He cared about us as people, not just about the work we did for him.”
A native of Wilson, N.C., Ezzell began his career as a reporter at The Wilson Daily Times.
Over the next 52 years, he worked as a reporter and city editor for The Petersburg-Progress Index in Petersburg, Va.; reporter and Petersburg bureau chief for The Richmond-Times Dispatch; assistant managing editor for The Chronicle; and editor of weekly papers in South Carolina and Georgia. He was editor of The True Citizen for 12 years before retiring in 2004.
Ezzell received numerous press awards in Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia for his writing which included several outstanding editorial awards.
He also served as director, vice president and president of the Waynesboro Exchange Club and was a member of First Baptist Church of Augusta where he previously served as church clerk and a former deacon.
Survivors include his widow, Rose Marie Ezzell; daughters Kimberly Ezzell Stanek of Wilson and Kelli Ezzell Atchison of Jackson; and a son, James Kenneth Ezzell of Petersburg, Va.
Memorials may be made to the building fund of First Baptist Church of Augusta, 3500 Walton Way, Augusta, GA 30909 or the building fund of Mosaic United Methodist Church, 478 Columbia Industrial Blvd., Evans, GA 30809.