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John David Waybright

Posted 2013-05-16

    John David Waybright Jr., retired editor and general manager of the Page News and Courier at Luray, died Friday, May 10. He was 74.

    Mr. Waybright, a native of New Market, began his newspaper career March 10, 1961 as a proofreader at the Daily News-Record in Harrisonburg. He became the newspaper’s telegraph editor in 1962 and a year later was promoted to managing editor. 

    When the News-Record acquired the Page County weekly newspaper in 1967, Mr. Waybright became its general manager, a position he held until retiring March 10, 1996.

    In retirement, he has worked as a public relations and editorial consultant, and co-authored a biography of Page County-born artist George Quaintance.

    During his days as an editor, Mr. Waybright was a stickler for grammar and punctuation. Shortly after retiring, he and a few friends created what they called the Page County Literary Society, meeting weekly for a decade. As they pursued literary projects, Mr. Waybright often lectured his colleagues on the use of commas. 

    Gary Frink, legislative aide to Del. Todd Gilbert and a member of that society, recalled that Mr. Waybright, a liberal, also often expressed good-natured frustration over the conservative bent of his friends. 

    John Waybright was born Nov. 25, 1938 in New Market, a son of the late John David and Alma Lynn Golladay Foltz Waybright.

    He graduated as valedictorian of the New Market High School Class of 1957 and attended Madison College. 

    He was a past president and Paul Harris Fellow of the Luray Rotary Club, founding member and public relations chairman for 20 years of the Page County Heritage Association, and a board member and registered agent of the Page Public Library Association for nearly 40 years.

    He also was a past chairman of the Page County Service Unit of the Salvation Army, past board member and secretary-treasurer for 20 years of the Luray-Page County Chamber of Commerce, founding member and past secretary of the Mauck Meeting House Board of Trustees, founding member and past advisory board member of Page One and founder and charter member of the New Market School Association. 

    His autobiography of the artist George Quaintance is currently being published.

    He and his wife, Mary Ann were members for 30 years of the Saturday Nite Supper Club in Luray.

    He was a past member and lector of Our Lady of the Valley Roman Catholic Church.

    Mr. Waybright was named by Greater Madison Inc. as Outstanding Layman Educator of the Year for the Shenandoah Valley in 1982. His newspaper work had won commendations from the Virginia Press Association.

    Surviving are his wife, Mary Anna Burner Waybright; a daughter, Joni Dawn Waybright Turner of Luray; a sister, Jessie Ann Waybright Shirkey of Windsor, Pa.; a brother, James Carlo Waybright Sr. of Salisbury, Md., and three grandchildren.

    He was preceded in death by three half-sisters, Erva Foltz Noel, Corinne Foltz Messick and Betty Lou Foltz Barb.

    At Mr. Waybright’s request, the body was donated for scientific research and will be cremated. A celebration of his life will be held at The Warehouse Art Gallery, 15 Campbell Street, Luray, Friday, May 17, 7-9 p.m.