Tributes have been paid to Tony Locke, pictured left, who worked at the Hartlepool Mail for more than a quarter of a century, including a spell as its head of design.
Originally from Stockton-on-Tees, he worked at the Evening Despatch, in Darlington, before landing a sub-editing job at the Mail in the mid-1980s.
After leaving in 2013 he went on to the Teesside Gazette, in Middlesbrough, where until recently he still worked occasional subbing shifts. He also delivered guest lectures to journalism students at Teesside University.
An obituary in the Mail notes Tony “effortlessly” made the transition from “hot metal” to full-page computer design before progressing to the head of design role.
Mail editorial director Joy Yates said: “Tony was an extremely popular member of the Hartlepool Mail team and was often called upon for advice and guidance. He will be sorely missed by all who had the honour of working with him.”
Former Mail assistant editor Gavin Ledwith added: “Tony was one of the most knowledgeable people I have worked with in journalism. He was happy to share his undoubted skills with less experienced and talented people such as myself.
“His deliberately grumpy manner could not hide a wicked sense of humour and I am sure I speak for countless former colleagues in saying how saddened and shocked I am at the death of one of the funniest people I have ever met.”
Among colleagues he was known for his sense of humour and sharp mind, which led to an appearance on the Channel 4 quiz show Fifteen to One.
Outside of work, he was also a season ticket holder at Middlesbrough FC for three decades. It is understood he had suffered a short illness before passing away.
Ian McNeal, daily content editor at The Gazette, said: “Tony was a hugely dedicated and professional journalist. He cared deeply about newspapers and about ensuring they had the best possible page design and highest quality writing.
“He was always a warm and friendly presence in the newsroom and his sense of humour will be very much missed at the Gazette. Our thoughts and condolences go to his family and friends.”
Tony is survived by wife Pauline, daughters Zoe and Hannah, and grandchildren Lucy and William.
His funeral will be held at St Hilda’s Chapel, Teesside Crematorium, Middlesbrough, on Tuesday at 2.15pm.