New York Times obituary, July 23, 1996
Vermont Royster, a former editor of The Wall Street Journal who won two Pulitzer Prizes and helped to shape his newspaper into the country's leading business daily, died yesterday in a retirement community in Raleigh, N.C., The Journal said. He was 82.
The Journal said Mr. Royster had been in ill health for several years.
Mr. Royster started as a reporter at The Journal in 1936 and worked his way up the ranks, becoming Washington correspondent, Washington bureau chief, editorial writer and editor.
Mr. Royster was also a senior vice president for Dow Jones & Company, the newspaper's publisher, and was a director of the company. After his 1971 retirement, he was named editor emeritus of The Journal and continued to write his weekly column, Thinking Things Over, until 1986.
Mr. Royster won his first Pulitzer in 1953, for editorial writing. The Pulitzer was awarded not for a specific editorial but for his work in general, which was praised for its "warmth, simplicity and understanding of the basic outlook of the American people."
In awarding him his second Pulitzer, in 1984, for distinguished commentary, the judges cited his column for its compassion and for putting contemporary events in a historical context.
Vermont Connecticut Royster was born in Raleigh. His given names were the same as his those of his grandfather, whose own father named his children after states in the Union. Mr. Royster graduated from the University of North Carolina and was a reporter for several newspapers in his home state before joining The Journal.
Mr. Royster interrupted his journalistic career to serve in the Navy during World War II. He was on convoy duty in the Atlantic and later served in the Pacific. He commanded a submarine chaser, a gunboat and a destroyer escort.
In person and in print, Mr. Royster was known for the gentle tone and rigorous thought that underlay his words. He was, in the words of one fellow journalist, "a gentle essayist among the shrillers of his time."
In 1953, Mr. Royster deplored the fact that some businessmen were discussing the truce in Korea in terms of bull markets and bear markets. "War itself is a terrible thing," he wrote, "but we find more terrible the fact that there are men walking about who talk of peace as if it were terrible."
In 1962, Mr. Royster was one of a group of American newspaper editors who had an audience with Nikita S. Khrushchev in which the Soviet leader said that, while he would rather invest in farm machinery than in rockets, his country had an anti-missile missile that could hit "a fly in outer space."
After retiring from The Journal, Mr. Royster became a professor of journalism and public affairs at the University of North Carolina.
In 1967, Mr. Royster's book "A Pride of Prejudices," a collection of some 100 editorials he wrote over two decades, was published by Knopf. His 1983 book, "My Own, My Country's Time: A Journalist's Journey," published by Algonquin Books, was an account of his childhood, his combat experiences and his years as a journalist.
In 1986, Mr. Royster received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation's highest civilian award. Mr. Royster, President Reagan said, had a common sense "that exploded the pretensions of 'expert opinion,' and his compelling eloquence warned of the evils of a society loosed from its moorings in faith."
Mr. Royster is survived by his wife, Frances, and two daughters.