Our November 10 cover subject, the singular newspaperman Jim Dykes, died Thursday, Nov. 17 at the age of 78. He was a reporter whose byline was familiar by the late 1960s, when he wrote for the Maryville Times and the News Sentinel, but he may be best remembered for his irreverent and often outrageous column in the old daily Knoxville Journal: “Without a Paddle” ran weekly from the early 1980s to the early 1990s. Many were collected in book form in a 1987 collection of the same name, a local bestseller.
Mostly retired from journalism for the last 20 years—he came out of hiding now and then to accept a freelance gig—he’d been seriously ill with cancer of the stomach for more than a year, staying mostly at his home Condorhurst with occasional excursions with friends and family. Dykes rallied just four weeks ago when he was the recipient of the Friends of Literacy’s East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award.
He also influenced certain uncommitted slackers by making a weekly newspaper column seem like a hell of a lot of fun.