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Longtime editor R.G. ‘Gene’ Puckett dies at 80 comment (0)

May 30, 2013

RALEIGH, N.C. — Career journalist and champion for a free Baptist press R.G. “Gene” Puckett died May 12, months after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Puckett, 80, worked as a Baptist journalist longer than any person in the 20th century. 

After pastorates in Kentucky and in Ohio, at age 25 he became editor of the Ohio Baptist Messenger and director of Baptist student work for Southern Baptists in Ohio in 1958. He left in 1961 to become pastor of First Baptist Church, Dunedin, Fla.

Puckett was editor of the Maryland Baptist from 1966 to 1979 and editor of North Carolina’s Biblical Recorder from 1982 until his retirement in 1998. He also was a president of the former Southern Baptist Press Association.

In 1990, he and other Baptist state paper editors formed Associated Baptist Press (ABP) hours after the firing of the two top editors of Baptist Press by the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee. 

ABP recognized Puckett in 2011 with the Greg Warner Lifetime Achievement Award in Religious Journalism. Puckett credited his mentor C.R. Daley, who hired him at the Western Recorder, and contemporaries of Daley’s like Texas Baptist Standard editor E.S. James; John Jeter Hurt, who edited both the Baptist Standard and Georgia’s Christian Index; and Reuben Alley of Virginia’s Religious Herald with teaching him about the integrity it took to be a Baptist editor. “The effectiveness of any democracy depends on an informed constituency, and if Baptists don’t know, they can’t do,” Puckett said.

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