Joseph White, former AP sports writer, dies at 56

Tuesday, August 13, 2019

STAUNTON, Va. (AP) — Joseph White, known for finding unique ways to write about sports and other topics during an award-winning career at The Associated Press, has died at age 56.

White died Saturday, according to Jonathan Hines of the Coffman Funeral Home in Staunton, Virginia, where White was enjoying a second career as the owner of a grocery store and restaurant. Hines said the cause of death is unclear.

White’s brother, Allan Moye, said his brother was found unresponsive on the floor of his home by roommates.

White had recently cut short a hike of the Appalachian Trail after breaking his wrist.

He won Sports Writer of the Year honors in 2005 at the AP while based in Washington, where he covered the NFL’s Redskins and broke news such as the hiring of Jim Zorn as the team’s head coach. His beats also included the NBA’s Wizards, other professional and college teams. White also was a member of AP’s Olympics coverage.

Before going to Washington, White worked for the AP in London.

He took a sabbatical from the company in 2015 and moved to Staunton, in the Shenandoah Valley. White bought Cranberry’s Grocery & Eatery, a natural foods store and cafe, and used events such as scavenger hunts and trivia nights to ingrain himself and the business in the community. He did not return to journalism.

“People in this town really embraced his quirkiness,” Moye said. “He loved to include people in activities and he would create those activities. ... Joe never considered himself as alone. He was a big Charlie Brown and Peanuts fan. In fact, he was kind of like a Charlie Brown character.”

White’s first love was radio, and his transition to writing was unexpected, Moye said.

“I was hired first ... to work for AP Radio in London,” White said when sharing the news of his sabbatical with his AP colleagues. “Such warm memories return as I make yet another transition.” He added that during his sabbatical, “I’ll be leading hikes and crafting the perfect smoothie.”

White loved journalism. He recently stopped by the Redskins training camp to visit with former colleagues.

“He was serious until you talked about hiking and nature and things like that,” said Redskins President Bruce Allen, who added that the two once dined together after White had written something Allen didn’t agree with. “He wanted to get it right. ... He wanted it right. It’s not just his journalism. I think it was in Joseph.”