Jack Scism, 87, award-winning journalist, public servant, loving husband and father, departed this life on the morning of January 11, 2020, to join his wife of nearly 60 years, Nancy, who preceded him in death in February 2014.
Comfortable at his home in Fairfax, Va., he was surrounded in his final days by his four children, Laura Greenspan of nearby Reston, Leslie Scism of Yardley, Pa., Jackie Noble of Davidson, N.C., and Jack Scism, Jr. of Alpharetta, Ga.
Jack was born during the heart of the Depression in Danville, Va., on July 21, 1932, the second son of P.E. and Modelle Scism. He lived an idyllic life on the family’s tobacco farm in Pelham, N.C. with brother Thomas Edgar and sister Mary Elizabeth. They squabbled over farm chores and created their own toys out of discarded household items.
Jack attended George Washington High School in Danville, where he met his future wife, Nancy Fox. Farming would remain in Jack’s genes, but Jack got the reporting bug at GWHS. He became Sports Editor of the school’s “Chatterbox” newspaper, where Nancy was editor-in-chief. He attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, earning a degree in journalism.
He and Nancy married within weeks of their college graduations. Jack was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Air Force, and they left for Texas, where he flew KC-97 Stratotankers during the early years of the Cold War from bases across Texas and Canada.
Jack returned home to Pelham, where he helped his father farm tobacco as he also worked full-time as a reporter at The Danville Register for the next 12 years. He moved on to the Greensboro Daily News in 1969 while continuing to live in Pelham to manage the family farm.
A series of investigative stories written with fellow Daily News reporter Ned Cline uncovered widespread abuses in the N.C. parole system. The award-winning stories led to Jack’s appointment in 1974 as Chairman of the state Paroles Commission by then-Gov. James Holshouser.
Jack returned to the Daily News in 1977. Two years later he led a team of reporters covering the KKK/Communist Workers Party shootout in Greensboro. Their coverage was chosen as a finalist for a Pulitzer prize.
He was oft recognized for his business writing, covering the furniture market, the Greensboro airport, banking and economic developments. Jack finally retired in 1996, but remained active in journalism with his popular weekly “Remember When” column for the now-named News & Record.
When he declined to refill the ink for his pen, he and Nancy traveled up and down the Eastern seaboard visiting grandchildren, tended his yard and Nancy’s rose gardens, and watched the Atlanta Braves and, of course, his beloved Tar Heels. He would have considered himself fortunate to miss Carolina losing to Clemson at home.
In addition to his four children, survivors include sons-in-law Jack Greenspan of Reston, Va., and Dean Noble of Davidson, N.C., and daughter-in-law Amy Scism of Alpharetta, Ga.; sister Betty Hubbard of Roxboro, N.C., and brother Tom of Charleston, Ill. Grandchildren are Joshua, Matthew and Litton Greenspan; Dashiell Brown; Jacob and Nicholas Noble; and Margaret Randell and Ryan Scism. Great-grandchildren are Florence, Rafferty, Albert, Krystof and Anna Greenspan and Lillian Scism.
The family will greet friends at the Adams-Green Funeral Home in Herndon, Va., from 2 p.m.-3 p.m., Monday, Jan. 13, with a short service at 3 p.m. He will be laid to rest alongside the love of his life, Nancy, in a short ceremony at 1 p.m. Friday, Jan. 24, at the New Garden Friends Cemetery in Greensboro. A reception will follow.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made in Jack’s honor to The Salvation Army or Fisher House.