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Journalist who helped found regional daily dies at 83

John BeckA journalist who was part of the team that launched a regional daily 50 years ago this year has died aged 83.

Tributes have been paid to John Beck, pictured left, who was features editor of the Shropshire Star when it first launched in 1964.

In a career spanning six decades, John also worked for the Express & Star, the Birmingham Post and Mail and Wolverhampton Chronicle before retiring in 1991.

John passed away in a nursing home in Shrewsbury following a long illness.  His funeral is due to take place tomorrow.

John was born in Tipton, Staffordshire, in 1931 and attended Dudley Grammar School before getting a a proof reading job at the town’s Herald Press title in 1947.

Nine months later he took up a reporting role at the Brierley Hill office of the County Advertiser, before undertaking national service with the RAF between 1951 and 1953.

On his return he worked at the Stafford office of Wolverhampton’s Express & Star, where he was in charge of theatre coverage.

John’s next jobs was as deputy editor of the Wolverhampton Chronicle before he joined the team led by first editor Ted Ireland to launch the Star.

He then spent time at the Birmingham Post and Mail before returning to the Express & Star, and ended his career back at the Chronicle where he resumed to his previous role.

John also wrote an autobiography based on his Black Country upbringing, national service and early journalism career, entitled Perhaps I’m Really Mervyn Davenport.

His widow Jean explained: “Mrs Beck had gone in a nursing home in Tipton. The lady in the next bed had a little boy on the same day called Mervyn Davenport.

“Both John’s family and Mervyn’s family moved away from Tipton into Coseley and John and Mervyn went to the same school.

“As a teenager, when he was playing up a bit, mum Beck used to say ‘I think they gave me the wrong baby at that nursing home. You must be Mervyn Davenport.’ And that stuck.”

The couple had two sons, Christopher and Michael, who both passed away before their father.

John’s funeral will be held on 19 December at Emstrey Crematorium, Shrewsbury.

4 comments

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  • December 18, 2014 at 2:45 pm
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    John was the first person I met on my first pre-publication day as a news sub at the Shropshire Star in 1964. He went out of way to welcome non-Express & Star newcomers and stayed a friend for the next 50 years.

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  • December 18, 2014 at 4:45 pm
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    I remember John with great affection from my E&S days – a conscientious and knowledgable journalist from the old school, and unerringly friendly to young upstarts like myself. RIP.

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  • December 18, 2014 at 8:35 pm
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    John was a great guy and a very good friend. R.I.P.John

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  • January 2, 2015 at 6:50 pm
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    I have only just seen this terrible news, and I wanted to say how sorry I am that this true gent has passed away. I worked with John for some years on the Chronicle series and learned so much from him, both professionally and personally. He was a genuinely nice man and an excellent journalist. My condolences to Jean. Thank you, John, rest in peace.

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