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‘Unflappable’ editor dies aged 77 after two-decade cancer fight

John RogersAn “unflappable” former editor who lived with cancer for more than 20 years has died aged 77.

Tributes have been paid to John Rogers, who edited the East Kent Gazette and Sheppey Gazette between 1981 and his early retirement in 1995.

John, pictured, was diagnosed with stomach cancer a few months after his retirement and detailed his battle in the book Dying To Live.

David Jones, a former editor of the Kent Evening Post, has been among those to pay tribute.

He told Kent Online: “John was my first boss when I entered journalism at 17 at the end of 1963. He helped me tremendously during those formative years.

“He was what we might today describe as laid back. He was a talented journalist and totally unflappable. I don’t recall him ever losing his temper, or even getting mildly irritated.

“He had a quiet, unassuming manner with a great sense of humour and was always the same whether in or out of the office. He always smoked a pipe, which somehow added to his permanent air of unflappability.”

John began his career on the Chatham, Rochester and Gillingham News in the early 1960s as a trainee reporter and remained with the paper until he was transferred to the East Kent Gazette, in Sittingbourne, in 1963 under chief reporter Gerald Hinks.

He later worked his way up to deputy editor before getting his first editor’s chair at the Kentish Independent, in Woolwich.

John returned to Sittingbourne in 1981 as editor, taking over from Murray Evans.

Stephen Rayner, who served as his deputy form 1987 to 1989, said: “I started on the Monday after the Big Storm had ripped through the lower half of Britain.

“I remember him as a kind and calm editor. It took a lot to make him shout at the reporters, although they sometimes deserved it.”

Stephen’s wife Christine took over as deputy in 1989 and ran the paper between John’s departure in 1995 and the title’s closure in 2011.

She said: “John was an easy man to work with, always approachable and fair.

“He never forgot his roots in Sittingbourne and was very proud of rising through the ranks to become editor of the local newspaper he had known all his life.”

John, who died on 3 May, is survived by wife Marlene, son Mark and daughter-in-law Alison who live in America with grandchildren James and Emma.