Longtime editor passes away

The Kernersville community lost one of its most beloved figures on Tuesday, March 16, with the passing of John Edward Staples, retired editor of the Kernersville News and a longtime author. Staples was 84.
During his tenure with the Kernersville News, it wasn’t unusual to find Staples with notebook and pen in hand and a camera slung around his neck as he covered the community’s news with wit, wisdom and humor. Staples was even more famous for his philosophical musings, many of which found their way into his columns and editorial opinions.
“We began our careers at the newspaper at about the same time. I have never met anyone who loved the news, and specifically community news, more than John Staples,” said John Owensby, publisher and managing editor of the Kernersville News. “His is a great loss to Kernersville.”
In retirement, he became a regular at the Fitz on Main restaurant in downtown Kernersville, often inviting those interested in a good story to join him and his friends.
He also published several books, including “White Lies and Other Deceptions,” “Perfect Imperfection,” “Make Love Drive Freeway Every Now and Zen,” “Staples Stuff: Reflections of an Eccentric Realist,” and the series, “Staples Fables I and II.”
According to Staples’ published biography, he was drawn into writing after reading Thomas Wolfe’s classic novel, “Look Homeward Angel,” during his senior year in high school. Staples entered Duke University with an engineering scholarship but soon found himself immersed in the novels of Aldous Huxley, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner and Henry James. After one semester, he dropped his engineering courses and began pursuing a bachelor of arts degree in history and English.
Staples entered the U.S. Marine Corps as a second lieutenant after graduation. Although he attended the naval flight school at Pensacola, Florida, Staples made no secret of the fact that he “washed out” a mere five flights before carrier qualifications.
“My flight instructor told me I was an inherent danger to naval aviation,” Staples would say with a laughing humor.
Staples finished his military service as a communications officer at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
He later taught high school English at Orange High School and Oak Ridge Military Institute, served as a claims adjuster for State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Co., and began his writing career as a reporter for the Kernersville News at age 35. During his career in the newspaper industry, Staples was elected president of the N.C. Association of Community Newspapers and served as a director of the North Carolina Press Association. He retired in 2002 after 30 years in the news business.
“I once read that the novelist John O’Hara quit the newspaper business and started writing novels so that he ‘could tell the truth,’” Staples is quoted as saying. Contrarily, he argued that, “Newspapers never tell the truth; they tell what they know about the truth, which is by necessity a miniscule amount of the whole fabric.”
Funeral services for John Staples will be held at 11 a.m., Saturday, March 20 at Main Street United Methodist Church. Interment will follow at Eastlawn Gardens of Memory.
A walk-through visitation will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday evening, March 19, at Pierce-Jefferson Funeral Services Kernersville Chapel, located at 213 West Mountain Street. For a complete obituary, see above.

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