Former Beacon Editor Al Hooper dies (updated)

By Brian Soergel | Oct 02, 2018
Al Hooper

Updated Oct. 3:

Al Hooper, a journalist who lived and breathed the written word and kept readers informed as an Edmonds Beacon editor and writer, died Sunday, Sept. 30.

He was 88.

“I worked with Al for many years, and kept in touch with him on Facebook after his retirement,” said Linda Chittim, former general manager of Beacon Publishing. “He couldn't have been a more encouraging and kind man. An excellent writer and editor. My condolences to his family.”

Said Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling: “He was a wonderful writer and human being with a very quiet, fabulous sense of humor.”

Former Edmonds Mayor Gary Haakenson came in contact with Hooper many times.

“Very sorry to hear this,” he said. “I just received three of his books in the mail yesterday. A good man.”

In addition to being a consummate journalist – his sharp wit often took direct aim at those who he was tasked to cover, Hooper was – indeed – a prolific novelist.

After putting his newspaper career to bed, Hooper jumped at the opportunity to create his alter ego in the Adam Cole series (“Flynn’s Last Stand,” “Cole’s Last Chance” and “One Last Shot”). Just last week, Beacon Publisher Paul Archipley wrote a review of “One Last Shot.”

“Hooper’s strengths – including taut prose and snappy dialogue regularly interspersed with plenty of action – make ‘Shot’ a page-turner that keeps readers glued,” Archipley wrote.

Archipley visited Hooper over the weekend, finding him as witty and charming as ever, despite his declining health.

“Al was a great mentor,” Archipley said. “When I bought the Edmonds Beacon in 1998, he was the best part of the deal. I’m grateful I could call him my friend.”

Longtime readers will remember Hooper for his popular “City Lights” column in the Beacon, which he continued to write after retiring as Beacon editor in December 2008.

One of Hooper’s hires was columnist Joanne Peterson, who writes the Beacon’s “Home Again” column.

“A month or so after my first column,” she said, “Al emailed me his favorite Mark Twain story. I've told it often since. The story goes that Mark Twain wrote a lengthy letter to a friend. And then he apologized.

“He said he was sorry the letter was so long – he didn't have time to write a short one. Al liked that story, and its application to journalism. He liked the discipline of going back for another look at whatever he had written.

“Could it be tighter? Shorter? Better? I liked the story, and like applying it every time I write. Al Hooper will be sorely missed by people who knew him far longer and far better than I did. But he touched my life, and I will miss having him in my world.”

Hooper was born May 22, 1930, to Hubert and Margaret Tomlinson Hooper of Winnipeg, Manitoba, the youngest of six siblings.

Hooper was a career newspaperman. In addition to finishing his career with a long stint at the Edmonds Beacon (he was editor at the former Edmonds Paper when Archipley purchased it and renamed it the Edmonds Beacon), he worked for publications in Winnipeg, Vancouver, Yakima, Vancouver Island and Seattle.

Hooper enjoyed hockey, boxing and basketball, and earned a black belt in karate.

His family spoke for many when they wrote, “Al was truly one of the kindest and most generous of souls. He was known for his dry wit, sense of humor and his insightful perspective on sports and life.

“He was an exemplary role model for his children and grandchildren, providing constant support and encouragement. He enriched the lives of everyone he met. His loss has created a seismic shift in the lives of his family, colleagues and long-time friends.”

Al is survived by his wife June; children Patty, Lee and John; sons-in-law and daughter-in-law Robin, Ron and Lynn; and three grandchildren, Nathan, Graham and Anna.

There will not be a service. In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made to Doctors Without Borders, or a charity of your choice.

Original story:

Al Hooper, former editor of the Edmonds Beacon, died Sunday, according to his family.

Just last week, Beacon Publisher Paul Archipley wrote a review of Hooper’s third in a series of mystery novels, “One Last Shot.”

“Hooper’s strengths – including taut prose and snappy dialogue regularly interspersed with plenty of action – make 'Shot' a page-turner that keeps readers glued,” Archipley wrote.

Longtime readers will remember Al for his popular “City Lights” column in the Beacon.

Beacon columnist Joanne Peterson, who writes the “Home Again” column in the Beacon, wrote about Hooper in April 2017 after publication of her 600th column.

“I did not meet Al Hooper in person for three years after that day I called the Beacon office and asked for the editor,” she wrote, reminiscing about the beginning of her column.

“We communicated weekly by email, though, and his succinct comments helped me improve my skills immeasurably. He insists now that he never did anything for me back then but write the headlines for my columns.

“In truth, Al – now a published author, retired from journalism – was a mentor and inspiration to me.”

Al wrote a letter to the editor soon after I was named editor that commended my hiring and my first column.

That meant a lot, as Al’s engaging writing style, bullish reporting skills and transcendent humor were all qualities he must have known he had somehow handed down to me.

See ya, Al. You were the best. I hope I can continue to one day be second best.


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