John Jeffrey Fish of Winston-Salem, N.C., passed away peacefully Sunday, September 12, 2021 at age 63 following a long, courageous battle with a brain tumor and Parkinson’s disease.
John is survived by his daughter, Hannah Reed, her husband Eric; his grandsons Hunter and Garrett and Eric’s sons, Alex and Tony of Cape Coral, Fla.; daughter, Addison Fish and her husband, Pharaoh Ferrara of Winston-Salem, N.C.; parents, Barbara Blanks of Winston-Salem and John Fish of Punta Gorda, Fla.; sister, Pam Fish and niece Avery Wells of Winston-Salem; and sister Jan Powell, her husband, Robby; and nephews, Jake and Steven Powell of Cary, N.C.; and cousin Susan Toner of Winston-Salem and extended family.
John was born June 1, 1958 in Jackson, Tenn. After living in Florida and Georgia as a young child, the family moved to Boone, N.C., where John grew up and graduated from Watauga High School in 1976. He then became a devoted Tar Heel and graduated with a Journalism degree from the University of North Carolina in 1981. His love for the Tar Heels and journalism remained constant in his life. In his storied career, John’s first job was at The Robesonian newspaper in Lumberton, N.C., as a sports writer where he transitioned into the management side of the business. He then worked as the City Editor at the York Daily Record in York, Pa., before becoming the Managing Editor and later the General Manager for The Augusta Chronicle in Augusta, Ga., for 12 years. He led the development of the company’s first on-line department and created the first website on the Masters Tournament in 1993. He forged a partnership with CNN/Sports Illustrated and in 1995 the website was named the nation’s best internet site by the Newspaper Association of America. His success continued at the Topeka Capital-Journal in Kansas where the paper won numerous awards during his time as Publisher. His last position before being diagnosed with the brain tumor was as President and Publisher for the Naples Daily News in Naples, FL where the paper was recognized as one of the top 10 daily papers in the country for reaching the most adults in a metro market and 13 national awards for on-line work. He established a national reputation as an innovator and pioneer who recognized the need for newspapers to diversify. He also established Multimedia Consultants LLC near the end of his career.
To know John was to love him. He was fun, a great story teller, creative and highly competitive. He hated to lose...any game. John had a zest for life. He loved being surrounded by his friends and family. When John made friends, they were sure to be brothers for life, such as lifelong friends from Boone, in the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house at UNC and the newspaper industry. He inspired others to do their best and made each person, even those he just met feel special and important. A lot was learned by his enthusiasm, courage and optimism in the face of his life-altering diagnosis.
His relationship with his grandfather, Jeff J Blanks Jr., spurred John’s love of sports and you could always find John watching his beloved Atlanta Braves or Tar Heels. He particularly cherished his time as the quarterback at Watauga High School for legendary coach Jack Groce. The memorabilia found in his home only added to the experience of watching a game with him. John’s memory of various sports teams’ games and specific plays from years ago never faded and he loved a good conversation about baseball, basketball, football, hockey and golf.
John’s greatest love though was reserved for his daughters of whom he was extremely proud. His enormous love for them was always apparent when he spent time with them and his beautiful grandchildren. John looked forward to visits from Hannah’s family and loved when Pharaoh and Addie moved to Winston-Salem so he could spend more time with them.
The family is eternally grateful for the exemplary care provided by Dr. Katy Peters at the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center. John’s team of doctors, including Dr. Peters, Dr. Waynekid Kam, Dr. Jeffrey Cooney, Dr. Eugene Paschold and Dr. Alicia Walters, assured he received the best care possible. And, a heartfelt thanks to Trellis Supportive Care for their kind and compassionate care.
A memorial service for John will be held at Highland Presbyterian Church in Winston-Salem on Friday, September 17 at 10 a.m., to honor his life. Masks will be required. In lieu of flowers, please consider donating in John’s honor to:
Cancer Services of Winston-Salem — cancerservicesonline.org/memorials/
Angels Among Us — supportdukehealth.org/site/TR/AngelsAmongUs?pg=entry&fr_id=1590
Kate B Reynolds Hospice Home — trellissupport.org/content/ways-give