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November 27, 2012

Watson recalled as classic newsman, friend

Peter Watson, the former Gloucester Daily Times editor and lifelong newsman who died Saturday at 73, is being remembered as one who inspired a generation of journalists, not just through his newsroom leadership, but also through friendships, many which lasted a lifetime.

He nurtured hundreds of interns and reporters who passed through the doors of the Times and its parent Essex County Newspapers, and many of them even lived at his sprawling, dark blue Victorian house on Granite Street in Rockport.

There, he and his wife, Patricia, provided not just a house but a home, drawing the young writers into conversation or taking them for a swim in the nearby quarry. But whether at work or at play, his legacy lives on in the lives of writers across the country.

Watson served as editor of the Times from 1970 to 1983. He retired as general manager of Essex County Newspapers in 2002.

“The Gloucester Times and Watson launched many careers,” said Lisa Miller, a Times intern in 1978 who now directs the journalism program at the University of New Hampshire. “For years, journalism interns from the University of New Hampshire worked for the Times. Pat and Peter treated us like family and helped us through the ups and downs of the internship.”

In an interview just a week before he died, Watson noted the path of former local writers, including one who earned a Pulitzer, and so many others who went on to work as editors, publishers and authors.

Barbara Carton, a longtime staff reporter at The Wall Street Journal, said most of what she learned about journalism was “pure Peter.” She noted that she grew up at a time when her father’s notion of a career path for her was one of working as a receptionist at The Northern Trust Bank in her native Chicago, until a suitable husband turned up.

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