Former ECU News Bureau chief dies
(Oct. 16, 1996)
William A. Shires, a former newspaper correspondent, columnist and the director of the East Carolina University News Bureau for 22 years, died early Tuesday (Oct. 15, 1996) at Pitt County Memorial Hospital after a lengthy illness. He was 70.
A native of Jackson, Tenn., Shires joined the ECU News Bureau and Public Relations department in 1970 and was director until his retirement in 1992. Before coming to ECU he spent eight years as the manager and columnist for the N.C. Association of Afternoon Dailies where he wrote about news events and state government for publication in 35 newspapers.
Earlier in his career he led regional news coverage operations for United Press International, working in bureaus in Atlanta, Raleigh and Richmond. He also worked as a reporter for the The Commercial Appeal in Memphis, Tenn. and The Jackson Sun in Jackson, Tenn.
Shires came to ECU during a period when the university was seeking support to develop a new School of Medicine. He was recruited to the position by the late Dr. Leo W. Jenkins, the former president and chancellor.
As a veteran journalist, he brought to the post an extensive background in news and a determination to keep the public informed about the activities of ECU.
“We operate on the premise that there is no such thing as the status quo,” he once told a reporter for an article published about the News Bureau several years ago. “I think that’s what news is all about -- that things are always in the process of change, and that we are to report the changes that take place.”
Shires is a graduate of Lambuth College in Jackson, Tenn. and majored in Chemistry. He also attended N.C. State University and the graduate school at ECU.
He was a member of Phi Kappa Phi national honor society. For several years during the 1960s and early 70s he was the statewide publicity chairman for the American Cancer Society, and was a member and chairman of the Environmental Advisory Commission for the City of Greenville from 1985 - 88.
He was married to the former Nancy Lee Patterson of Greenville and Barberton, Ohio. He has three children: Kenneth M. Shires of Raleigh, Richard Paul Shires of Willow Springs and Elizabeth Archer Knight of Houston.
The funeral is Friday at 2 p.m. at the Wilkerson Funeral Home chapel in Greeville. Family will receive visitors at the funeral home on Thursday evening between 7 and 9 p.m.