Yancey, longtime North Carolina journalist, was a special guest
at the School of Communications on Labor Day. He spoke in Janna
Anderson's section of JCM 300 Reporting for the Public Good, was
presented with a certificate honoring his years of public service
as a newsman and was feted with a luncheon in his honor.
at the event included Yancey's daughter, Carra Schoene, and current
Associated Press Raleigh Bureau Chief Sue Wilson.
Yancey led a distinguished career of public service as an outstanding
journalist and columnist from the 1930s on to the 1980s. He said
he began a career as a reporter because of his interest in history.
"Newspaper reporters handle the raw material of history,"
In the course
of this career, he spent 39 years working for the Associated Press,
one of the world's leading news organizations. He covered major
stories every year of his service, including the crash of a munitions
truck in Johnston County three months after the Japanese attack
at Pearl Harbor. A car had collided with the truck, and a Marine
repeatedly risked his life returning to the gas-doused munitions
truck and the crushed car to rescue crash victims. When the fire
finally caused the munitions to ignite, the explosion blasted a
35-foot-deep crater in the highway, destroying a 35-room hotel,
a gas station and other buildings nearby and almost wiping the town
of Catch-Me-Eye off the map. Many people died in the incident.
assignments Yancey tackled included Hurricane Hazel and the North
Carolina crash of a multimillion-dollar Air Force B-52 Strategic
Air Command bomber carrying two unarmed nuclear weapons in 1961.
One of the devices was located; the other was not. "It was
serious business," he said. "They'd lost an atomic bomb
in Wayne County."
the journalist's watchdog role in reporting and writing for many
years about the North Carolina legislature and governor's office.
years as a newsman, he covered 12 governors, from J.C.B. Ehringhaus
through James Hunt Jr. Some of the most significant figures he covered
included Richard M. Nixon,Thomas Dewey, Sam Ervin, Strom Thurmond
and North Carolina governors Terry Sanford and R. Gregg Cherry.
A master interviewer
who could put people at ease, Yancey is also known for his dry wit,
according to his former colleagues at the AP's Raleigh Bureau. His
wife, Frances, would occasionally accompany him when he was out
doing interviews for stories.
from the AP in 1979, he continued writing - working as a columnist
for The Spectator, a Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill-area publication
that later became known as the Independent. He will celebrate his
90th birthday in October.
In 1954, Yancey
was in Myrtle Beach, S.C., to cover Hurricane Hazel as it made landfall.
He told students in Anderson's class about the difficulties he encountered.
"In those days,
you filed your notes by phone, and I had to drive 50 miles inland
from the coast to use the phone," Yancey said. He then returned
to Myrtle Beach, gathered more notes and drove back to the same
phone several hours later. "So I drove 100 miles that day just to
use the phone twice."
He teased his
daughter about the time she was a young girl and answered the phone
at home when he was covering the arrival of a dangerous hurricane.
"The AP had reported me missing," he explained. "It
was a radio interview and when they asked about me she said, 'My
mom's not worried about dad - she's worried about the new car.'"
students reporters should have a tremendous sense of curiosity and
be fair and honest. "Too
many reporters today want to make the news, not report the news,"
His daughter Carra was at his side during the session he held with
Elon students, helping jog his memory. "One of the things daddy
was known for is fairness," she said. "He was always fair
to his sources."
by reminding the students, most of whom weren't born when he retired
from AP in 1979, "When you get to be 89, you know you have more
yesterdays than tomorrows!"
dean of the School of Communications, presented Yancey with a certificate
and a gift in honor of his career. The School of Communications
traditionally hosts a Labor Day event to honor a person who has
had a long and distinguished career in a communications-related