Jim Bentley and Jeff Nesmith
Jim Bentley joined The Constitution in 1958 and served as a reporter, assistant city editor, night city editor and city editor until leaving to join the Tennessee Valley Authority as director of information in February 1979. When offered a job as the first Cox Washington news editor, he jumped at it. He retired at the end of 1993 and moved with his wife, Pat, to Jekyll Island, Ga.Jeff Nesmith was hired by The Constitution in the mid-1960s. He was a prize-winning reporter, held several editing jobs, married fellow reporter Achsah Posey and moved north to the Philadelphia Bulletin. When the Bulletin crumbled, the Nesmiths moved to Washington, where Achsah was a speech writer for Jimmy Carter and Jeff rejoined Cox in the Washington bureau. He won numerous journalism awards, including a Pulitzer, before the Internet stole the classified ads. Their granddaughter is the most important visitor to their home in Alexandria, Va.
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By Jim Bentley and Jeff Nesmith:
When Jack Nelson, the Los Angeles Times reporter and former Washington bureau chief, died at 80 on Oct. 21, 2009, obituaries ignored his early career. Aside from dutifully noting that he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1960 for a series of articles in The Atlanta Constitution on abysmal conditions at the state mental hospital at Milledgeville, his obituaries said little about the dozen years during which he grew into the dominant reporter in Atlanta. This was true even of the obit in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
We suggest that in an odd and no doubt unintended way, this was itself a sort of embedded tribute. Winning a Pulitzer in Georgia at age 29 would for most newsmen mark the “prime” of their careers. For Nelson it was merely the beginning of a prime that lasted another half-century.