A mentor and a friend

Dennis Anstine is pictured at his desk at the News-Times. Although he was a freelance writer, rather than a staff reporter, he maintained a regular presence in the newsroom. (Photo by Rick Beasley)

The News-Times lost one of its own this week. Dennis Anstine passed away at the age of 78, after battling bladder cancer for the past couple of years.

When Dennis and his wife, Jeanne, moved to Newport around 2012, he was supposed to be retiring. But printer’s ink flowed through that man’s veins, and he just couldn’t leave the news business behind him. Before long, he started writing some freelance stories for us and eventually became a regular presence in our newsroom. In fact, even though he wasn’t a full-time reporter, he had his own desk in our office and probably spent about as much time here as the rest of the staff.

And we were certainly fortunate that he did. Dennis had a long career as an award-winning journalist, and he was quick to share his vast experience with the rest of us. By the time he joined us here in Newport, I had already been with the News-Times for more than 20 years. But even so, I considered him a mentor. He could give the appearance of a gruff and crusty old journalist, but under that exterior was a big heart, a quick smile and a desire to do what he could to help others and promote quality community journalism.

Dennis began his career in the late 1960s as a newsman for the Associated Press in Los Angeles, after studying journalism at San Jose State University. He later moved to the Northwest and took a job as city editor of The Olympian in Olympia, Wash. His career would take him to a number of other stops along the way, eventually landing him in Portland, where he first was the editor at The Skanner, and then managing editor at the Portland Business Journal. He would later become the first managing editor of the Portland Tribune, helping to launch that paper when it started up in 2001.

After moving to Newport, Dennis and Jeanne lived in a home on a bluff overlooking Nye Beach — a picturesque setting for anyone to enjoy their retirement. But it wasn’t long before his itch to write needed to be scratched. “He just couldn’t put it down,” Jeanne said. “He couldn’t stop working. It was just him.”

Well, the News-Times and Lincoln County readers were certainly better off for him having chosen our newspaper as an outlet for his need to keep writing. Dennis covered a lot of different topics while working here, but one area he particularly seemed to enjoy involved the ports and the commercial fishing industry.

His passing this week left a hole that will never quite be filled. Jeanne said she plans to hold some type of memorial service once the restrictions on social gatherings have been lifted, but at this point, she really has no way of knowing when that might be.

There is no doubt that Dennis left us too soon, but I feel honored to have known him and worked with him for a few years. There are certain people who just leave an impression on you, and Dennis was one of those for me.