Veteran Lawton reporter, cattleman dies

Lawton_ Paul McClung, an award-winning journalist and north Texas cattleman, has died. He was 83.

McClung died Sunday at his home in Lawton after a long battle with cancer, said David Hale, managing editor at The Lawton Constitution.

McClung worked as a reporter and editor at the Lawton newspaper until he retired in 1987. He won numerous awards for investigative reporting and was inducted into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame in 1996.

He also was a cattleman who worked the family ranch near Byers, Texas, for decades.

McClung was well known for his Old Dad columns, decades of stories that were published in The Lawton Constitution.

"I can't overestimate how much Paul taught me about writing," said Eve Sandstrom, a reporter, editor and columnist who worked with McClung. "Rarely did he tell me what or how to write. He simply wrote so beautifully himself that I kept trying to copy him -- to use lots of significant detail, to identify the key points of the story, and to write simply."

After serving in the Army during World War II, McClung earned his bachelor's degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1949. He wrote briefly for The Lawton Constitution until 1950, when left to pursue a master's degree from Columbia School of Journalism in New York City.  He went to work for Dell Publishing as a writer and regional editor specializing in true crime.

In the mid-1950s, he was hired on special assignment to cover the Fort Sill court-martial of Ambrose Nugent, accused of collaborating with the enemy during the Korean War. Publisher Ned Shepler lured McClung back to Lawton for good in 1963 by promising him he could write a column.

"In 35-plus years in the newspaper business, I've met very few true journalists," said Stephen F. Bentley, co-publisher of the Constitution. "Paul McClung was one."

After retiring from news writing in 1987, McClung taught at OU, then worked as director of public information at Cameron University from 1989 to 1995.

(Copyright 2007 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)