Former news editing and photography professor Stuart Sechriest loved people.
And by the end of a long career at UNC, he had met and influenced quite a few of them, those who knew him said.
Sechriest, who taught at UNC from 1946 until his retirement in 1977, died at his Chapel Hill home Thursday, ending a battle with a long-term illness. He was 97.
Sechriest challenged students to develop practical skills in journalism, said Donald Shaw, a journalism professor.
Shaw took Sechriest’s class as a student. He later taught with Sechriest at UNC and served alongside him in the Army.
“I learned an important lesson from him — that journalism is more than just knowing things,” he said. “It’s being able to do things.”
Sechriest, a Davidson County native, was born in 1914. He served as a colonel in the army, wrote for the Greensboro Daily News and trained a generation of aspiring journalists. Sechriest also taught UNC’s first course in press photography.
“Some of his stories were too bawdy to tell,” Shaw said with a laugh. “He was a man of very sharp and quick wit.”
Sechriest devoted time and attention to his students, said Mike Yopp, a former student of Sechriest and a journalism lecturer at UNC.
Any time he took a trip, he would visit former students at newspapers along the way, said his daughter, Mary Sechriest.
He was also a family man. His daughters, Elizabeth Cornella and Mary Sechriest, remember taking long walks through Battle Park and Coker Arboretum with their father.
He loved the outdoors, especially gardening and fishing, they said.
Sechriest met his wife, Carolyn Tuck, in a class he was teaching, Cornella said. She was a student and about 15 years his junior.
“I guess they always had just a little crush on each other but never let each other know because that wasn’t the proper thing to do,” Cornella said.
A year or two later, Sechriest wanted two tickets to attend a glee club concert. Tuck was a glee club member and had a few extra tickets. She gave him only one ticket to prevent him from bringing a date.
Carolyn Sechriest died in 2001.
Sechriest loved the University wholeheartedly, said those who knew him.
“He was Tar Heel born and Tar Heel bred,” Cornella said.
Sechriest’s legacy lives on in the form of a photojournalism scholarship. The Stuart Sechriest Award grants $1,000 to an outstanding graduating senior studying visual communication each year.
Memorial contributions can be made to the School of Journalism and Mass Communication Foundation.
Contact the University Editor at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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