MALONE -- Illness has taken the life of legendary North Country journalist John Duval.

In a newspaper career that spanned 35 years, Duval worked for the Press-Republican, The Saratogian, Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Times of Ti, Rouses Point North Countryman, Clinton County Today and most recently the Malone Telegram.

He had to go on disability about a year ago when his health worsened. Duval died Wednesday on the way back to his Catherine Street apartment in Malone from a doctor's appointment, after complaining of shortness of breath.

The 57-year-old writer was known for his gravelly laugh and his love of science fiction and old movies, especially Superman.

Shortly before his death, Duval told friends he could finally watch all of the 1950s TV series "The Adventures of Superman," since it had been released on DVD.

He'd recently acquired the Superman movie serials from the late 1940s and the movie "Hollywoodland" about the mysterious death of "Superman" star George Reeves.

The early years of his journalism career, 1974 to 1978, were at the Press-Republican.

Press-Republican Editor Bob Grady said Duval had better sources and was more prolific than any writer he's seen.

Duval covered city and county government, and his investigatory stories irked many city department heads.

"At one point, he was allowed in only one office, yet he'd go over there and come back with four stories a day," Grady said. "He had great sources."

Duval loved fast food and would rather eat at McDonald's than most other restaurants.

"The way he conducted his life was his charm but his undoing," Grady said.

Duval left the Press-Republican to move to Saratoga County soon after getting married and started a family there.

In the mid 1990s, after his marriage had ended, Duval was working at The Sagamore Resort in Bolton Landing when the Times of Ti needed a reporter in a hurry. He quickly moved back to his hometown of Ticonderoga and started writing.

Times of Ti Editor Fred Herbst said Duval was a hard worker who never missed a story.

"He was an outstanding reporter and a wonderful person. We're going to miss John."

Duval worked for the Times of Ti and other Denton Publications for several years.

Former Malone Telegram Managing Editor Joseph Riccio said working with a veteran reporter like Duval was an honor and a pleasure.

"He brought with him a knowledge and passion for journalism that was both admirable and contagious. He pursued the news with steadfast determination in a way that was fair, balanced and full of objectivity. All of us who worked with John were better journalists because of him.

"Above all, John was our friend, and he will be greatly missed. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, particularly his sons, Greg and Joe."

One of the final battles John waged for readers, before disability forced him to put down his pen, was with the Malone Town Council when it was weighing wind-farm regulations.

A consultant who drew up the guidelines sent a preliminary report of his findings. But the Town Council refused to disclose details until board members could review it during an executive session with an attorney.

Duval was told he would not be allowed at the meeting, but that did not stop him.

He demanded entry on behalf of the paper, saying the report was a published document received by the town and, therefore, a public record open to public scrutiny.

Several citizens who followed his stories in the Malone Telegram questioned the town's motives, and pressure began to rise.

After a few days of his tenacious reporting, the town held a conference call with the attorney and opened its meeting.

Copies of the wind-farm document were passed out to everyone, including Duval.

"He was a bulldog," Malone Town Supervisor Howard Maneely said Thursday. "He would ask so many questions you knew he was going to get a story out of you every time.

"He was an old-time reporter who knew how to get the news. We had our differences, but we would always end up friendly again."

lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com

Recommended for you