ROANOKE, Va. (AP) — Forrest “Frosty” Landon, longtime editor of the Roanoke Times & World-News who was described as a “born newsman” in a career that spanned 40 years, died Monday. He was 87.
Word of Landon's death came from Beth Macy, Landon’s niece-in-law and former Roanoke Times reporter, The Roanoke Times reported. No cause of death was listed.
Landon worked in radio, television and newspapers while in Roanoke. The Sidney, New York, native was 22 years old and just out of the University of Missouri’s journalism school when he came to Roanoke in 1955 to work at WDBJ-TV the day the station went on the air. The Times-World Corp. also owned the WDBJ radio station, and Landon soon moved from television to become the radio station’s news director.
After Norfolk, Virginia-based Landmark Communications bought the locally owned Times-World Corp. in 1969, the television and radio stations were sold, and Landon remained a newspaperman the rest of his career.
Landon also covered the integration of southwest Virginia’s schools in the early 1960s. When Floyd County High School integrated in 1960, school officials banished reporters from interviewing Black students. Landon, working for the radio station, and a newspaper reporter tailed a school bus and interviewed a Black student in her home.
During his time as executive editor of The Roanoke Times, which was also called the Roanoke Times & World-News during most of his career as newsroom boss, the newspaper was a three-time finalist for a Pulitzer Prize.
In 1979, Landon wrote a first-person account of his cancer treatment after doctors discovered he had a rare case of lymphoma.
He became the executive editor of the Roanoke Times & World-News in 1982 when he succeeded Ben Bowers, who took a job in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Landon never fully left journalism even after his retirement in 1995, according to the newspaper. A year later, he co-founded the Virginia Coalition for Open Government and served as its first director. The nonprofit group worked to make citizens aware of government transparency and open records laws, and to strengthen the Freedom of Information Act.
Landon is survived by his wife, son and daughter and their spouses, and three grandchildren.