Longtime newsman Don Kingery, who covered the events of Southwest Louisiana for 50 years, then reminisced about them in his “Timeline” column after retiring, died peacefully at his home in Dayton, Texas on Saturday, November 15, 2014 surrounded by his loving family. He was 90.
He had moved to Texas from his Lake Charles hometown in recent years to be close to his granddaughter, but continued to write his local nostalgia column until his death.
Residents of Dayton know him best as Paw Paw Kingery, Lizzy Woodson's grandfather. He was an avid supporter of the Dayton High School Stepper Dance and Drill Team while Woodson was a member of the squad. Although bound to a wheel chair, Kingery made almost every home game the Dayton Broncos played between 2008 and 2010.
As a journalist, Kingery won boxfuls of news, features and commentary awards from the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and other competitions — and never hung them — during a newspaper career that crossed a remarkable eight decades. During times of his life spent away from his native Lake Charles, he was an Army paratrooper and Judo instructor during World War II. He also wrote novels, worked in the oilfields of Texas and edited and published other newspapers in Southwest Louisiana.
A banker’s son who liked to write and play sports — and did both with the same competitive verve — Kingery was a graduate of Lake Charles High School. Kingery spent several years as a professional football player with the NFL Detroit Lions, as well as with various professional and college teams around the United States and Canada including Texas A&M, LSU, Columbia and the Hollywood, California Bears. He remembered his barnstorming days as some of his most colorful. In 1956, while working as a reporter for the Evening Herald of Rock Hill, S.C., Kingery’s nonstop coverage of a multiple-fatality downtown shootout made him a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.
He was a contributor to several magazines including True, Reader’s Digest and Look. Kingery served as features and photo editor, wrote editorials and ran the daytime news desk at the American Press for better than 20 years. He continued to write investigative and extended coverage pieces of his own, however — and won national and state awards on topics ranging from union violence to poorly run reform schools. For decades, reporters were on the receiving end of Kingery’s editing, advice and coaching. Kingery, whose first submissions were as a schoolboy in the 1940s as a sports stringer, was inducted in the Louisiana Press Association’s “50-Year Club” in 2002.
Donald L Kingery, a widower, leaves behind his daughter, Kathryn Kingery-Benvegnu and her husband Mark, a granddaughter, Lizzy Woodson and two brothers, Wayne and Ellsworth Kingery, both of Louisiana.
Donations in his memory can be made at www.arthritis.org. No public memorial service is planned.
Copies of his Timeline books (collections of Kingery's columns and essays) can be obtained from the American Press by contacting Cheryl Trouille at email@example.com.