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Rush Funeral Home

1009 Second Street
Pitkin, LA 70656
(318) 358-3133
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Pitkin LA Obituaries and Death Notices

Farewell to Jay Woodard, Duke's own eccentric newsman – Shaffer - News & Observer (blog)

Monday, August 29, 2016

Maryland ear but was more likely the result of his devotion to grammar. At his funeral Thursday in Cary, not far from where his family once lived off Tryon Road, his sister Gwen Pitkin told me Jay started out teaching English and French in Henderson, and that all of his books were cluttered with scribblings from both languages in the margins, offering suggestions on proper usage.Once, to my large delight, Jay attended a newsroom party at my house – a coup because no one had ever seen this intensely private man in a social setting. He carried a 12-pack of Coors with him but I doubt if he drank any beer that night. Instead, he scanned the titles on my bookshelf, picked out “War and Peace” and sat down to read from page one. Perhaps an hour later, he left the party without a word. I still hope he had a good time.Early riserJay worked at the Observer for almost 40 years, starting in 1961, and he held a variety of editing and reporting jobs. But he never sought the spotlight – at least not in the years I knew him. The rest of us clamored for the front page and stalked home in a huff if anyone tinkered with our masterwork, but Jay quietly profiled local businesses for the inside of the B section. A new kayak shop downtown. Family trucking companies. Not the sort of prose that won awards, but the kind of personal touch a newspaper reader looks for over fried eggs and coffee.He operated according to a strict and remarkably early routine: in at 7 a.m., far before any other news-gatherers began to stir. You would arrive sometimes find him barking at the police scanner, hollering “10-4!” back at the machine that clearly annoyed him. He also followed an ironclad lunchtime regimen. I discovered that Jay shared my love for K&W Cafeteria, and he was nearly always first in line when it opened at 11 a.m.I’m told that he left the Observer before he was ready to leave, and that he harbored enough of a grudge a decade later that he didn’t want his obituary in the paper that so long employed him. I never saw him after 2000, but thankfully, he wrote me often once I started at The N&O, and I have a handful of these letters in my desk.“Went to my class reunion at Duke,” he wrote in 2005. “I was really thankful that the names of old friends came to me so readily. Instant recall it was. In several cases, I even remembered their nicknames. Not one of them, not a single one, remembered me.”Toby TunaAt the service Thursday, family members told me he was famous for these letters, all written in longhand on yellow paper. Mine always included a second missive penned by Jay’s alter ego mysteriously named Toby Tuna, who told me in 2005, “Beings from other planets, maybe other galaxies, are trying to get in touch with me. It started about six months ago. I heard ‘Beep, beep, beep.’ Looked first at the check engine light. It wasn’t on.”I asked Jay’s sister if she had any clues to the origin of this nom de plume, and she told me, laughing, “I have no idea.”He made for such a charming anachronism in a late 1990s newsroom that was just adjusting to the Internet. I remember showing Jay how to search the web, watching him slowly type the letters h-t-t-p. ... But he made me feel comfortable as a bookish oddball who liked to read alone in his car during lunch hour. He welcomed me into the fraternity of ink-s...

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Farewell to Jay Woodard, Duke's own eccentric newsman – Shaffer - News & Observer (blog)

Monday, August 29, 2016

Maryland ear but was more likely the result of his devotion to grammar. At his funeral Thursday in Cary, not far from where his family once lived off Tryon Road, his sister Gwen Pitkin told me Jay started out teaching English and French in Henderson, and that all of his books were cluttered with scribblings from both languages in the margins, offering suggestions on proper usage.Once, to my large delight, Jay attended a newsroom party at my house – a coup because no one had ever seen this intensely private man in a social setting. He carried a 12-pack of Coors with him but I doubt if he drank any beer that night. Instead, he scanned the titles on my bookshelf, picked out “War and Peace” and sat down to read from page one. Perhaps an hour later, he left the party without a word. I still hope he had a good time.Early riserJay worked at the Observer for almost 40 years, starting in 1961, and he held a variety of editing and reporting jobs. But he never sought the spotlight – at least not in the years I knew him. The rest of us clamored for the front page and stalked home in a huff if anyone tinkered with our masterwork, but Jay quietly profiled local businesses for the inside of the B section. A new kayak shop downtown. Family trucking companies. Not the sort of prose that won awards, but the kind of personal touch a newspaper reader looks for over fried eggs and coffee.He operated according to a strict and remarkably early routine: in at 7 a.m., far before any other news-gatherers began to stir. You would arrive sometimes find him barking at the police scanner, hollering “10-4!” back at the machine that clearly annoyed him. He also followed an ironclad lunchtime regimen. I discovered that Jay shared my love for K&W Cafeteria, and he was nearly always first in line when it opened at 11 a.m.I’m told that he left the Observer before he was ready to leave, and that he harbored enough of a grudge a decade later that he didn’t want his obituary in the paper that so long employed him. I never saw him after 2000, but thankfully, he wrote me often once I started at The N&O, and I have a handful of these letters in my desk.“Went to my class reunion at Duke,” he wrote in 2005. “I was really thankful that the names of old friends came to me so readily. Instant recall it was. In several cases, I even remembered their nicknames. Not one of them, not a single one, remembered me.”Toby TunaAt the service Thursday, family members told me he was famous for these letters, all written in longhand on yellow paper. Mine always included a second missive penned by Jay’s alter ego mysteriously named Toby Tuna, who told me in 2005, “Beings from other planets, maybe other galaxies, are trying to get in touch with me. It started about six months ago. I heard ‘Beep, beep, beep.’ Looked first at the check engine light. It wasn’t on.”I asked Jay’s sister if she had any clues to the origin of this nom de plume, and she told me, laughing, “I have no idea.”He made for such a charming anachronism in a late 1990s newsroom that was just adjusting to the Internet. I remember showing Jay how to search the web, watching him slowly type the letters h-t-t-p. ... But he made me feel comfortable as a bookish oddball who liked to read alone in his car during lunch hour. He welcomed me into the fraternity of ink-s...