Newbold Noyes Jr., Washington Star Editor, Dies at 79

By Archibald, George | The Washington Times (Washington, DC), December 19, 1997 | Go to article overview

Newbold Noyes Jr., Washington Star Editor, Dies at 79


Archibald, George, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)


Newbold Noyes Jr., the last member of a family news dynasty to run the Washington Evening Star newspaper, died yesterday of a heart attack at his home in Sorrento, Maine. He was 79.

Mr. Noyes served in World War II as a volunteer ambulance driver with the American Field Service. When his tour of duty ended, he persuaded the Star, partly owned by his family from 1867 to 1974, to accredit him as its war correspondent in the area.

Mary Lou Forbes, The Washington Times' Commentary editor who won a Pulitzer Prize while a reporter at the Star, remembers piecing together Mr. Noyes' memorable World War II dispatches from the European front.

"The one that is etched in my brain forever is his description of Mussolini's and his mistress's bullet-ridden bodies hanging in the town in Italy, where they had been slain by angry mobs and hung up by their feet for all to see," Mrs. Forbes said.

"It really put you there, right at the scene of this symbolic event of the crumbling of the Axis. Even before you saw wire photos - things moved much more slowly then - I had a clear picture of the grisly finale. It was as though I was a spectator along with Newby."

Mr. Noyes worked at the newspaper for 30 years - 12 as editor - and retired in 1975 after it was sold to Texas millionaire Joseph L. Allbritton. Time Inc. acquired the Star in 1978 and, after losing an estimated $85 million, folded the paper three years later.

"Newby was the last of three Noyeses to edit the Star," said Smith Hempstone, Mr. Noyes' second cousin and editorial page editor at the Star from 1970 to 1975. "He brought with him to the paper considerable writing skill, an ability to identify talent in others, and a sense of fun that seldom abandoned him."

Mr. Hempstone, a former executive editor at The Washington Times, founded as a successor to the Star, said Mr. Noyes' departure after Mr. Allbritton bought the paper "marked the end of an era for the Star and for the newspaper business as a whole. The bottom line became, and has remained, profitability among many papers, with the bean counters in charge."

Woody West, associate editor of The Times, worked for Mr. Noyes at the Star for 20 years. "He was a gentleman who cared deeply about the trade and the paper. He represented the kind of conscientiousness that family-owned papers at their best used to convey."

As an editor in the 1950s and '60s, Mr. Noyes bucked tradition by elevating women to key positions. …

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