Vermont Royster, Wall Street Journal Sage

Image from the State ArchivesOn July 22, 1996, Vermont Connecticut Royster, a journalist affiliated with the Wall Street Journal for 60 years, died.

Born in 1914 in Raleigh, Royster was not the only one in his family to have unusual first and middle names. His great-grandfather started the tradition of naming people after places and relatives had such names as Arkansas Delaware and Iowa Michigan.

A graduate of UNC, where he began his writing career as a reporter for the Daily Tar Heel, Royster moved to New York in 1936 and found part-time work as a writer for the Journal for $15 a week.  He quickly worked his way up the paper’s ranks, leaving only for a brief stint in the Navy during World War II. As editor from 1958 until 1971, Royster set the Journal’s political policy, aligning it closely with business interests and the resurgent conservative movement.

In 1971, upon retirement from full-time employment at the Journal, Royster returned to UNC as Kenan Professor in the School of Journalism. His autobiography, My Own, My Country’s Time, was published in 1983. His column, “Thinking Things Over,” remained a staple of the Journal until his last year, 1996.

Among his many achievements, Royster received two Pulitzer Prizes, journalism’s highest honor, in 1953 and 1984. In 1986, he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Ronald Reagan.

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