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Monday, November 12, 2012

Mont Vernon resident J.P. Heaney Sr., award-winning journalist, dies at 82

MONT VERNON – Joseph P. Heaney Sr., an master horseman and award-winning journalist who moved to Mont Vernon more than 40 years ago upon accepting a position with Nashua businessman and inventor Royden Sanders, has died after a brief illness, his family said.

Mr. Heaney died Friday at the Community Hospice House in Merrimack. He was 82. ...

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MONT VERNON – Joseph P. Heaney Sr., an master horseman and award-winning journalist who moved to Mont Vernon more than 40 years ago upon accepting a position with Nashua businessman and inventor Royden Sanders, has died after a brief illness, his family said.

Mr. Heaney died Friday at the Community Hospice House in Merrimack. He was 82.

His son, the late Joseph P. Heaney Jr., was a Telegraph reporter in the late 1970s and ’80s, and his second wife, Kathryn Marchocki, is a staff reporter at the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Born in Cambridge, Mass., Mr. Heaney graduated from Boston University in 1953 and embarked on a journalism career that took him from the tiny Valley News in Lebanon to the former Boston Herald-Traveler, where he won a series of Associated Press and United Press International awards for work that included coverage of then-U.S. Rep. Wilbur Mills’ affair with Boston stripper Fannie Foxe, the child murders in Atlanta, a series on war-torn Ireland and stories on various mobsters and Boston politicians and social figures.

He moved with his family to Purgatory Hill, Mont Vernon in 1969, when Sanders hired him at his rising venture, the former Sanders Associates. Mr. Heaney, who often wrote speeches for Sanders, returned to journalism three years later, joining the news staff of the Herald-Traveler, now the Boston Herald, covering, among other beats, Boston City Hall during the reign of the late Mayor Kevin White.

After retiring on the last day of 1999, Mr. Heaney devoted more time to his farm, named Purgatory Falls Farm, and his lifelong enjoyment of horsemanship.

In a tribute story in Sunday’s Herald, several colleagues remembered Mr. Heaney as “an artist with words” and “a poetic version of John Wayne.”

“His writing was very artistic … he was considered to be one of the best writers on the paper,” Herald contributing reporter Mike Pingree said. “All the younger guys looked up to him.”

In addition to his son Joseph Jr., who covered a mix of education, sports and feature stories for the Telegraph from 1976-82, Mr. Heaney was predeceased by two daughters, Julianne M. Heaney, who died in 1973, and Janet E. Heaney, who died in 1997.

Besides his wife, he is survived by two sons, Jeb, of Mont Vernon, and Sean, of Newport, Vt.; two daughters, Jocelyn of Los Angeles and Joellen of Martinez, Calig.; and his former wife, Elaine (Proctor) Heaney.

Dean Shalhoup can be reached at 594-6443 or dshalhoup@nashuatelegraph.com. Also follow Shalhoup on Twitter (@Telegraph_DeanS).