A Blair County man who spent nearly 50 years in the news business will be remembered for a career that took him to China with President Richard Nixon, had him working in Baltimore amid fire and gunshots on the night of Martin Luther King Jr.'s assassination and allowed him to return to his beloved hometown of Bellwood to care for aging parents while pursuing local and state stories.
"We lost a great one," said WRTA news reporter Chris Forshey of 78-year-old Roy B. "Sonny" Goshorn who died Thursday at the Altoona Regional, about eight months after being diagnosed with brain cancer.
See obituary on Page A13.
Longtime friend Bob Gutshall of Altoona said Goshorn went through chemotherapy and radiation but learned about three weeks ago that his tumors had grown.
"He went into the hospital about a week ago, after a fall," Gutshall said.
Forshey was one of the last local news reporters to work side-by-side with Goshorn, from late 2006 to early 2008, when Goshorn, then in his early 70s, took a part-time job with the radio station.
"I really looked up to Roy because here was this guy who brought a lot of big city experience to this small local radio newsroom," Forshey said. "And when I was out with him, everybody knew who Roy was."
Goshorn, who grew up in Bellwood, was the son of Dr. Roy Goshorn, a well-known local physician and psychiatrist, and Leone Goshorn, a great-granddaughter to one of the Bell brothers who founded Bellwood.
He enrolled at Moravian College in Bethlehem in the late 1950s and secured a part-time job with the Allentown Morning Call. In a 2008 interview the Mirror, Goshorn said it wasn't long before he concluded: "I could be doing this the rest of my life."
After college, he worked for a TV station in Scranton, then later took a news anchor job in Baltimore. On April 4, 1968, when King was slain, Goshorn recalled taking refuge under a fire truck to avoid gunfire.
He later worked for the ABC news bureau in Washington, D.C., which led to an assignment at the White House and the history-making trip to China with Nixon and Henry Kissinger in February 1972.
Goshorn remained in Washington until the mid-1980s when he returned to Blair County because of father's failing health and initially latched onto a job at WFBG radio, overseeing the station's news department. He later picked up assignments for The Associated Press, the Harrisburg Patriot and other news outlets that made him fixture among those gathering news.
"I remember Roy as the consummate professional as a newsman," said former Mirror Managing Editor Dave Cuzzolina, now director of marketing and communications for the Altoona Regional Health System. "His interviewing skills were exceptional, and he wasted no time - and no words - getting to the heart of a story. He raised the bar for local news here."
Kathy Mellott, a reporter with the Tribune-Democrat, Johnstown, was saddened when learning of Goshorn's death and recalled his animated way of speaking, his gestures and how he would challenge a judge's ruling during court cases they covered.
"He would raise his arms and say in a loud voice, 'Your honor' and then he would state his case," Mellott said. "I loved covering trials with him. We lost a good man."
"I don't think anyone could intimidate Roy," said retired Blair County Sheriff Larry D. Field, a former TV videographer and photographer, who recalled working on stories with Goshorn.
"He didn't let anybody push him around," Field said. "He'd stand up for what he believed in."
Goshorn was on the job for most elections, too, reporting Blair County's votes for statewide offices.
"We were election night groupies," retired Blair County Commissioner Donna Gority said. "He was always there on behalf of a national wire service or another organization. It was always nice to touch base with him. And he was always easy to talk to."
Sometimes after calling in the votes, Goshorn would stop at the Mirror to wrap up his election night duties, blending into a busy newsroom.
"He was always excited about his work, so positive, and he always seemed to be invigorated," Mirror Managing Editor Neil Rudel said. "He was a pleasure to have in the office."
Gutshall, who said he has known Goshorn since the 1950s, said he always admired his longtime friend's stamina and energy.
"He outran me, and I'm seven years younger," Gutshall said.