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On May 8, 1998, then-Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reporter Jeff Porter had a stroke.

Guy Unangst, his former editor, drove the roughly 100 miles from Little Rock to Batesville to help his friend.

The stroke affected the part of Porter's brain that impacted his language, a crucial skill for a reporter.

When Porter left the hospital, Unangst worked with him to rebuild his writing techniques. Porter said they often met after work at a bar in west Little Rock, where they would talk and drink for hours, conversations that helped Porter develop his speech again.

"I will never forget that I started practice writing, and Guy would look at it and edit, correct and find the places where I needed to focus on language," Porter said.

Unangst, 75, died Friday after complications with a biopsy that tested for cancer. He lived his last 10 years in Jacksonville, Fla., where he moved to be closer to his longtime friend Andrea Harter, who also worked at the Democrat-Gazette.

"He didn't have any close family, so we kind of adopted him," Harter said.

Unangst edited for approximately 15 years at the Democrat-Gazette, leaving in 2009 to move to Florida. At the paper, he edited major Sunday articles; political stories from the Washington, D.C., bureau; and special projects.

Former Executive Editor Griffin Smith recruited Unangst to the paper after the newspaper war between the Arkansas Democrat and Arkansas Gazette.

"Guy was probably the most gifted journalist I ever knew," he said.

Before the Democrat-Gazette, his editing career included stops at the Philadelphia Inquirer, where he was part of a Pulitzer Prize team, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, according to his obituary.

"You know, Guy was an amazing individual because he looked fierce, and many times he was fierce because he didn't suffer fools gladly," Smith said.

"He was a terrific, old-school editor, crotchety, curmudgeonly, every stereotype you can think of," former reporter Jane Fullerton said. "He would hate us saying nice things about him."

Harter added: "He was interested in everything. He liked trivia. He liked vintage things, and I'm pretty sure he wouldn't have gotten a computer if there was another way to communicate efficiently."

Unangst was cantankerous, Harter said. He loved a good steak and his Mazda Miata. His favorite scotch was Glenlivet.

"I'm sure he's enjoying a cup of Glenlivet right now somewhere," former Democrat-Gazette reporter Terry Lemons said.

Unangst loved cats. He named one "Hussman" after Democrat-Gazette publisher Walter E. Hussman Jr., Harter said.

Celia Storey, a Style editor, remembers finding a white kitten that she was trying to find a home for, and Unangst was the only person who volunteered to take it. Storey said she was apprehensive because Unangst was known for his temper, and she specifically recalled him breaking an office glass door out of anger. But when he held the kitten, Storey said, he completely transformed and "melted."

"The cat had a happy life," Storey said.

Metro on 03/12/2019

Print Headline: Guy Unangst


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