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OBITUARY Noel Yancey

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OBITUARY Noel Yancey

Dennis J Yancey (View posts)
Posted: 1080061496000
Classification: Obituary
Reporter Noel Yancey dies


CHAPEL HILL -- Noel M. Yancey, a longtime Associated Press reporter who covered the state Capitol with a steady hand for nearly four decades, died Thursday of respiratory failure. He was 90.
Yancey was born Oct. 11, 1913, in Charlotte and was raised in Morganton.

He graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1935 and was a student of O.J. "Skipper" Coffin, the first dean of UNC's journalism school. After working for several newspapers, he joined the AP shortly before World War II.

When he started, the wire service was a shoestring operation in which stories were sent by Teletype or read over the phone to editors around the state. By the time he retired in 1978, the AP was using early predecessors of the personal computer.

Except for giving up smoking, Yancey's methods changed little during that time.

He took copious notes, asked pointed questions and never betrayed any hint of excitement as he typed his stories using only his index fingers.

"Noel was one of those guys who could write 50 stories in about an hour," said Roy Parker Jr., chief political correspondent for The News & Observer in the late 1950s. "He had this remarkable calm about him. He just sat there with that telephone stuck in his ear and churned it out."

A dapper dresser, Yancey was also known for being a consummate gentleman, earning the nickname "dean of the Raleigh press corps."

Sue Price Wilson, chief of the North Carolina AP bureau and a co-worker of Yancey's during the late 1970s, remembered a story he told about landing a difficult interview with the widow of a jailer. The man was killed by a female inmate who accused him of attempting to rape her.

Yancey brought along his wife, Frances, and sat on the woman's porch as the two women shelled beans. Eventually, she started chatting, and Yancey was able to get her to open up.

"He knew how to get people to talk to him," Wilson said.

After he retired, Yancey wrote a column, "As I Recall It," which was carried in several North Carolina newspapers. In 2003, the School of Communications at Elon University recognized him for distinguished service to the journalism profession.

Along with his wife, he is survived by a daughter, Carra Yancey Schoene, of Petosky, Mich.

A memorial service is scheduled for 11:30 a.m. Wednesday in the auditorium of the Carolina Meadows retirement community in Chapel Hill.

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