'A Remarkable Journalist': Longtime Member Of Journalism Community In Oklahoma Suddenly Passes Away

A beloved member of the journalism community in Oklahoma has written his final story. James Beaty was an editor for the McAlester News Capital, writing down history for nearly 40 years. He suddenly passed away last Sunday, May 12th, 2024. 

Thursday, May 16th 2024, 6:16 pm



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A beloved member of the journalism community in Oklahoma has written his final story. James Beaty was an editor for the McAlester News Capital, writing down history for nearly 40 years. He suddenly passed away last Sunday, May 12th, 2024. 

His colleagues called him a piece of living history, documenting some of the biggest stories in Oklahoma, like the Terry Nichols trial and that losing him leaves a hole in the community.

Walking into the McAlester News Capital people would find an empty seat and messy desk exactly how it was left.

"James Beaty, he was a remarkable journalist," said the newspaper's publisher, Reina Owens. 

The stories James wrote date back to when the presses were still running there.

"I mean that's nearly 40 years of the history of McAlester that he has written," said two of his co-workers, Derek Hatridge and Derrick James. 

During that time, he taught many journalists.

"He answered every question that we had, he taught us everything we knew," Derrick James said. 

His co-workers said the last time they saw James was when they celebrated his birthday. 

"He turned 72, and then he went on vacation for a week and that was the last time we all got to see him. So, it's been rough for us," said Owens. 

James died unexpectedly on Sunday, May 12th. 2024.

"His last text to me was in classic James's fashion, he told me his story was ready that Friday and he ended it with an adios, " said fellow editor Derrick James. 

Beaty was well-known in the community, but he also knew people well. 

"It's hard sometimes to meet people who can make genuine relationships from the first meeting, and James could do that," the paper's sports reporter, Derek Hatridge said. 

Beaty taught them how to tell a story, and now they will continue to tell his. 

His desk will soon be cleared to make way for a new reporter, and a legacy they all get to continue.

"Big shoes to fill, really big shoes to fill, that we'll never fill, no," his co-workers said. 

Beaty's visitation will be from 6-9 p.m. Sunday, May 19th at Brumley Mills in Hartshorne, OK.

His funeral will be held at 3 p.m. on Monday, May 20th at the Hartshorne Elementary Gym and Activity Center.

His burial will be at Elmwood Cemetery in Hartshorne. 

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