Award-winning journalist was president of West Virginia Press Association Foundation
By HEATHER ZIEGLER, The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, and reports from the West Virginia Press Association
WHEELING, W.Va. — J. Michael Myer, longtime executive editor of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, died Wednesday at Wheeling Hospital. He was 69.
Myer served as executive editor of both publications for the past 23 years. Prior to that, he was editor of the Wheeling News-Register, a position he assumed in 1991.
Myer was currently the president of the trustees of the West Virginia Press Association Foundation, the educational non-profit supported by the state’s newspaper industry. Myer was a past-president of the Press Association and winner of the Adam R. Kelly Award, the West Virginia newspaper industry’s highest honor, and numerous editorial and writing awards.
His 46-year newspaper career included stints as a reporter, weekly newspaper publisher and editor and then editor of the daily newspapers. Myer was well-known throughout West Virginia and Ohio for his daily editorials and columns that focused on local and state issues.
His colleagues and others in the community also knew him as a family man who loved the Ohio Valley, particularly his native Wetzel County. He had a passion for the great outdoors, often spending vacations camping with his wife, children and grandchildren in the Shenandoah Valley. He championed many social causes from education to feeding the hungry. Myer gave his time and talents to countless causes without wanting any attention paid to his actions.
G. Ogden Nutting, publisher of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, said Myer will be best remembered for being a newspaperman.
“For me, he was a close friend, a valued and respected source of good advice and counsel based on sound judgment, values and common sense, and also someone with a good sense of humor,” Nutting said.
“Mike’s love for his family and pride in what his wife Connie and his daughters, Christina and Jessica, accomplished was sincere, great, and obvious,” Nutting added. “The shortest editorial ever written certainly applied to him: ‘A family loved, a community and state served, a life well lived.’”
Along with his wife and daughters, Myer also is survived by his two grandchildren.
Myer also left a lasting impact on Perry Nardo, general manager of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register.
“Mike was a dedicated journalist who understood the importance of his profession and how his words impacted the lives of so many people,” Nardo said. “He took his role as a community leader very seriously, was above reproach, and he committed himself each day to providing our readers a balanced account of the news. His impact on my professional and personal development cannot be measured and his unique wit will be missed.”
For the West Virginia Press Association and the state’s newspaper industry, the lost is tremendous, Don Smith, executive director of the WVPA said.
“Mike has been one of the strongest editorial voices in West Virginia for decades. He won every award possible as a writer, editor and columnist and served as an example and mentor for writers across the state. At the Press Association, he was a respected leader and advisor.
“As president of the Foundation, he was a leader in providing college scholarships and paid internships for journalism students in West Virginia. Mike took great pride in the efforts of the Press Association and the newspaper industry to support students and journalism in West Virginia. Another one of the many highlights of his commitment to the people of this state was leading an effort to gather and deliver Christmas toys for the children of families impacted by the flood that ravished much of West Virginia in November of 1985.
“Mike was a great family man and friend. So many people in our industry are devastated by his death. Being professional journalists, we have seen a lot, but this brought tears to the eyes of many people. Our thoughts are with his wife, Connie, and his family,” Smith said.
Myer’s presence also will be missed by John McCabe, editor of the newspapers. McCabe said Myer served as a mentor to him over their 20-plus-year working relationship, and helped him to grow and fully understand the role of a community newspaper editor.
“Mike was a newspaperman’s newspaperman, offering a common-sense, grounded and measured approach to how we covered the events taking place each day,” McCabe said. “He also was my friend, closest confidant, a great sounding board on any issue that came up and a constant check on my sometimes rash decisions. I will greatly miss our daily chats on issues ranging from local and state politics, to our families, and to how we live life here in West Virginia. I have nothing but the utmost respect for how Mike did his job each day and how he led his life.”
McCabe also recalled Myer’s deep love for West Virginia, a love he shared with his family and friends and, sometimes, on the pages of the newspapers.
“To say that Mike enjoyed the outdoors would be an understatement; he absolutely adored the outdoors,” McCabe said. “He always appreciated when he had the opportunity to visit areas such as Canaan Valley or the Smoke Hole region on work assignments, and then come back and share his observations in a column. He also kept an old atlas in his desk that he often would pull out during our chats, pointing to various points of interest or a cave he had explored in his youth in that region. He was a West Virginian through and through, and this state and region has lost a true gem of a human being.”
Nutting added, “In his 46-year career, Mike had various titles: reporter, city editor, publisher, editor and executive editor. Today, he would probably be known as a journalist, but the designation he would have preferred most was simply newspaperman. Yes, a good newspaperman, a very good newspaperman. … I will miss him.”
Myer is survived by his wife, two daughters and two grandchildren. Funeral arrangements are pending.
Read the comments about Myer by community leaders at https://www.theintelligencer.net/news/top-headlines/2021/01/longtime-editor-mike-myer-dies-at-69/