Howard James, former owner of the Rumford Falls Times and the Advertiser-Democrat in Norway, died Friday after a career that spanned six decades.

According to those who knew him, James was the kind of reporter who would go to great lengths for a story, whether the topic was comical or deadly serious.

James started his newspaper career at the Chicago Tribune in 1960, marching alongside Martin Luther King Jr. more than once in pursuit of his stories.

For another story, a lighter one, James donned a bathing suit and stood in the middle of a swimming pool to interview Phyllis Diller.

Another time, according to James’ wife, he was able to follow U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy into a hotel bathroom because James had been mistaken as a secret service agent. Kennedy was so impressed, he gave James a full interview.

In 1964, James was named bureau chief at the Christian Science Monitor. Four years after that, he was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for the series “Crisis in the Courts,” which detailed incompetence and corruption in the American judiciary system — a series that later became a book.

In 1970, James’ book “Children in Trouble: A National Scandal” was published, examining available programs for delinquent youth. It was a theme James would revisit often, including in the 1975 book “The Little Victims: How America Treats its Children.”

“He did a lot of wonderful things for kids,” James’ wife, Judy, said.

She said her husband continued to work until January when he became ill, at which point the couple returned to Maine from Florida.

“He wanted to die writing at his desk,” Judy said. “He didn’t want to retire.”

His son, Jonathan James, agreed that his father was a newsman until the end.

“Always working, always wanting to make things beautiful, always caring about family in your own individual way right up to the end,” Jonathan James wrote in a Facebook post. “I know you’re having a new adventure and you’re probably reporting to grandmas and grandpas all that their grandchildren are up to. News reporter forever.”

James moved to Norway in 1976 after marrying Judy Munro, who at the time was publisher of the Berlin Reporter in New Hampshire.

“She was a widow and publisher of the Berlin Reporter when she tried to hire my dad,” Jonathan said. “He married her instead.”

Until June 2005, James owned the Rumford Falls Times and the Advertiser-Democrat, publications he ultimately sold to the Lewiston Sun Journal.

“I worked for Howard for 14 years before he sold James Newspapers to the Sun Journal,” said Lisa McCann, now the graphic imaging coordinator with Sun Media. “Howard was a very caring man and many of us who worked for him joked that he was like a second dad. Hearing of his passing leaves me with a heavy heart. I miss him.”


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