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Donald Kingery

September 28, 1924 ~ November 15, 2014 (age 90)
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Message from Ethel Fontenot Sacker
November 30, 2015 10:00 AM

Always looked forward to his writings in the Lake Charles American Press. I related to so many of them, as I grew up in that same time period, and lived through so many of the things he wrote on. It was like someone was writing my life story. I laughed and I cried over many of his stories, and even wrote one of my own experiences for his Timeline features. He will be missed so much. Ethel Fontenot Sacker
Message from Mike Gahan
December 17, 2014 6:31 AM

I just saw on I dine out that Mr K had passed. My heart is sadden. He was enjoyable to be around and to listen to his stories. It was an honor to know him and be to apart of his last month's here on earth as his Physical Therapist.

Mike Gahan PTA
Message from Callie McLemore
November 26, 2014 10:00 AM

Paw-Paw was such a kind spirit! And he never told on us when we came in way past curfew :) He would just flash a knowing smile and go back to his business. He will be missed. Keeping your family in my prayers, Lizzy.
Message from Kathryn Kingery-Benvegnu
November 24, 2014 12:52 PM

Kingery will be missed -
This morning, Nov. 17, the first thing I saw was the passing of Don Kingery. Even though, I never had the pleasure of meeting him, I felt we have lost a good friend.
His Timeline column said it all. He was a man of great humor that most readers could relate to in the early days. It won’t be easy for those who try to fill his shoes.
Don had a very colorful life, mostly because he was there and done that. He printed many stories I wrote to him. I’ll have to say that Don Kingery and Jim Beam are the best of the best that I’ve ever seen. I want to thank them for the columns they write. It is pleasure to read them.
HOWARD DAWES
Sulphur
Message from Kathryn Kingery-Benvegnu
November 24, 2014 12:48 PM

From
Donna Price
Saying goodbye to
Don Kingery no easy thing -
An event I was dreading finally came to pass Nov. 15. Don Kingery, my long-time boss during my first years at the American Press, passed away. He was 90.
He had suffered a stroke earlier in the summer and had been under hos- pice care. I knew that news of his death was coming but I still wasn’t ready to hear it.
Mr. Kingery had been living with his daughter, Kathyrn Kingery-Benvegnu, in Texas, in his later years but we heard from him on a regular basis through email corresondence. That’s because although he suffered from arthritis and was quite nearly deaf, he could still write like nobody’s business. Up until the end, he continued to send in stories for a Timeline page that ran on Fridays.
I was fresh out of college in the early ’80s when Mr. Kingery became my supervisor. I was the first newsroom artist at the American Press, and I took photos. Mr. Kingery was, among lots of other things, the photo editor — so they put me under his domain.
The old American Press office was on Broad Street then, where the Children’s Museum is now. The newsroom was on the second floor. I sat at a desk behind Mr. Kingery.
He was always a gentleman — quiet, refined and fairly private. I quickly learned, though, that when he politely asked, “When you get a chance, can you do such-and-such...?” what he really meant was, “Drop what you’re doing and start on this right now.” I know this because if he asked for whatever it was 30 minutes later and it wasn’t done or at least nearly done, a slight look of irritation crossed his face. I did everything I could to avoid that look.
He never said a whole lot, but he didn’t have to. I found I could read him pretty well. For some reason, I had a kind of sixth sense where he was concerned, and often knew what he was going to ask for before he asked for it. Because of that, I would begin things in advance that I knew he was going to ask that I do. He never seemed surprised by this.
He was a dedicated worker. He would many times rise from his chair to take a coffee break, and then the phone would ring. He would sit back down to handle the call and forget all about tak- ing the break when the call was done. He received lots of calls and missed lots of breaks. He took calls from some pret- ty zany people, but he handled them all with finesse, often making everyone around him chuckle while we listened to his patient replies to whatever challenging caller he was indulging.
Speaking of phone calls, at some point during each day, Mr. Kingery would call his wife, Sally. He would dial the number, wait for her to answer and then say, “Sally?” There would be a pause where I guess she responded, and he would say, “This is Don.”
Every day. The same thing. It never varied. I smiled every time I heard it. I was pretty sure after all those years she must have known it was him, yet he always felt the need to identify himself.
I was a little in awe of Mr. Kingery. He had been a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize. He had written novels. He had a black belt in Karate. And he had played professional football for the Detroit Lions.
“He was a jock,” said Jo Portie, a former co-worker I ran into after hearing the news of Mr. Kingery’s death.
Jo had attended McNeese with him way back when.
“He started a fashion trend back then at McNeese,” she said. “He and hs brother started the thing of not wearing socks with shoes.”
After she mentioned that, I remember he often did not wear socks to work.
Socks or no socks, I thought the world of Mr. Kingery. He was someone I never wanted to disappoint. He served as a mentor and guide to many young journalists, and to me. I admired the way he continued to use his gift with words even at his advanced age. Writ- ing, I think, was the lifeline that kept him connected to a world he could no longer hear. And those words, in his books and columns and all those stories, will be his legacy.
Message from Kathryn Kingery-Benvegnu
November 21, 2014 11:01 AM

Don Kingery —Journalist, Mentor and Friend
By JIM BEAM
Don Kingery walked into my office in 1971 asking about the possibility of going back to work at the American Press. He had left the newspaper in 1951 to pursue other journalistic opportunities and enjoyed a successful career for the next 20 years in both newspaper and business fields.
Don had returned to Lake Charles to help take care of his mother, and he said he didn’t want his two children to have to attend public schools in New Orleans. The Crescent City even today has a poor quality public education system that has been replaced for the most part by charter schools.
I had no knowledge of Don’s previous experience at the American Press, so I consulted publisher Hugh Shearman, who knew him well.
“If you need help, Don will do a great job for you,” Shearman said.
That was an understatement. Don performed numerous tasks over the next 20 years, holding down a number of editor positions and proving to be a great teacher and adviser for everyone on staff.
Complex stories were his real cup of tea. His investigative work was superior, and also controversial.
In 1974, former Gov. Edwin W. Edwards helped five of his Lake Charles supporters by giving them a lucrative lease of a former Sears building. The connections were complex, but Don turned in another superior performance while exposing the political favoritism.
A number of suits were filed against the newspaper by those involved, but only one of them was successful, and that was not because of a newsroom mistake.
Don’s experience in the labor field served us well during a number of incidents of labor unrest.
The first trouble came at the Ellender Bridge site in 1975 in Cameron Parish. A crowd of labor goons drove to the bridge and beat the hell out of a group of workers. The incident had been covered up, but Don helped shine the light on the labor problems that had plagued the area for much too long.
Some of Don’s best work came during the Jupiter Chemical Co. labor violence of 1976. Union workers attacked the work site, killing one man and wrecking havoc at the site. A number of labor figures were indicted after the violence and Don covered much of the aftermath. He also covered a number of trials that followed.
Two major public officials lost their jobs because of the coverage directed by Don, stories written by staffers and columns I wrote about the incidents. Calcasieu Parish District Attorney Frank T. Salter was defeated at the polls, and Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Henry A. “Ham” Reid resigned before his term was over.
Local legislators managed to appoint one of their own to the Lake Charles Port Board in 1986, and that was another major controversy in which Don played a key role in exposing the scandal.
Personally, I got great advice from Don that has served me well throughout my own journalism career. He always had a knack for getting to the core of problems and his solutions worked. He was a great delegator who knew how to get the best out of the reporters he supervised.
Don was a good friend and mentor for so many on our staff. They respected his knowledge and ability and he helped them become productive journalists. Most of them went on to bigger and better jobs.
The last years of Don’s life brought joy and satisfaction to many of our readers through his Timeline columns and his Timeline books. Like me, newspaper work was his lifeblood and he consumed it to the fullest. Many readers have told me how they are going to miss his columns and his way with words.
Don will be remembered for the legacy he left that says so much about life in Southwest Louisiana.
Message from Kathryn Kingery-Benvegnu
November 19, 2014 7:24 PM

From Beverly Dower Swanson:
Bobby (Dower) greatly admired and respected your father, and he always spoke highly of Don. They shared a love of journalism and newspapering, a true passion for their profession that would be central in their lives throughout their careers.
Message from Kathryn Kingery-Benvegnu
November 19, 2014 7:22 PM

from Dennis Spears:
Kathryn, my heart goes out to you and your family. There are many of us in the American Press newsroom family who have learned from Mr. Kingery. It would be such a wonderful thing if the old-school journalism he represented so well would be emulated by those who follow us in the field. Such would ensure the credibility of the print media, especially that which puts its emphasis on locally driven content.
Message from Kathryn Kingery-Benvegnu
November 19, 2014 7:17 PM

From Sonny Marks:
Don Kingery was a lion and I'm grateful to have shared the American Press newsroom jungle with him as a cub. I was a staff writer for the Press from 1993-2004, so I shared the tail end of Mr. Kingery's time in the newsroom with him. He was no longer an editor when I came around but he still held respect and honor in the newsroom. He didn't talk loudly or much, but the words he said carried weight.

Mr. Kingery encouraged my feature writing, complimented me and supported me, and I'll always be grateful for that. He told me I wrote the kind of stories that people frame and hang in cafes. That's one of the nicest, most genuine things anyone has ever told me.
Message from Kathy Land
November 19, 2014 6:01 PM

As a friend of Kathryn’s, I was in and out of Kathryn’s house from the time I was 16 years old until Mr. Kingery’s death. He watched Kathryn and I go to high school together, he watched us go to LSU and pledge the same sorority together, and he watched us find our ways to adulthood. He later met our own daughters and watched them play together. Mr. Kingery was like a touchstone for me, he was so gentle and kind, and always the same gentle welcome, “Hello Kathy!” I was always learning something else astonishing about him……that he had played professional football, and that he wrote books in his eighties. That I did not know these things speaks to the humility of this gentleman.

While he taught me how to make a killer gumbo, I would like to share the best life lesson that Mr. Kingery shared with me. He taught me the difference between Problems and Facts of Life. His lesson went something like this. A problem can be defined as a troubling issue that you can address. You can fix it, leave it, ignore it, or tweak it. You can deal with it, and in doing so, it is not a problem anymore. To you, anyway. Someone else may consider it a problem. A Fact of Life is just that. A Fact. Unchanging. Like the sun rising everyday. Like dogs barking. There is no changing them. They must be accepted for what they are. Facts of Life. A big key to happiness in your life lies in being able to tell the difference between Problems and Facts of Life. If you can do something about your problems and you want to, then do it. If you can’t then they may not be problems after all, they may be Facts of Life. Accept them, look for the goodness, and go fix a real problem.

I loved Mr. Kingery. He made me a happier person, and taught me the difference between Problems and Facts of Life. He was a gentleman and a scholar and will be dearly missed by family and friends alike.

Respectfully,

Kathy Land
Message from Kathryn Kingery-Benvegnu
November 19, 2014 4:06 PM

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Message from Kathryn Kingery-Benvegnu
November 19, 2014 4:03 PM

From long-time friend Pat Hicks:

My memories of your father include him explaining to me the correct way to grill a steak (which I still use today), how to write a decent story, and how what seems to be a major issue now can become relatively inconsequential when viewed from a different perspective in time. He was Zen, when Zen wasn't cool.
Message from Kathryn Kingery-Benvegnu
November 19, 2014 2:26 PM

1 file added to the tribute wall
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