Jeff Carlton high school sports writer for the News and Record died this morning from complications due to malignant brain tumors. Jeff had been suffering from these tumors on again/off again for several years.
The announcement was made just prior to today’s Tom Ward College Basketball Coaches Luncheon, ironically at the News and Record offices downtown on East Market Street. N&R sports editor Joe Sirera told everyone in attendance the news just before the luncheon got under way.
Jeff had been fine for the most part up until last Friday according to Sirera and Jeff had just gone back to the hospital on Tueday of this week for more treatment.
Jeff had been with the N&R for around 10 years and he began as a copy editor and then moved up to cover the high school sports after Dustin Long moved over to cover NASCAR. Jeff moved up to cover ACC football and basketball and he was the beat writer for the North Carolina Tar Heels when they won the NCAA basketball title back in 2005. It seemed to me that Jeff loved covering the Heels because that put him on the map and had him at the top of ladder covering the ACC and one of the top schools in NCAA college basketball history.
I got to know Jeff when he first began covering the high schools for the N&R and I had him on my radio show that I was doing at the time and we would talk local Guilford County High School football, hoops, baseball, etc. for nearly an hour each week on Thursday evenings. Later Jeff would do many sports talk radio shows across the nation with his knowledge gained from covering the Tar Heels and I would try to remind him every now and then that I gave him his start in radio. Jeff did make the big time.
Jeff was replaced on the high school scene by Kate Hairopolous and then when Kate left for Dallas, Kellie Dixon came on board, and when Kellie moved on to Florida, Jeff returned to the high school desk.
Jeff Carlton attended the Univeristy of Virginia in Charlottesville, and grew up in Northern Virginia near Alexandria. Jeff went to the same high school that was featured in the movie, “Remember the Titans”, and we are remembering Jeff here today. Jeff’s high school was TC Williams High School in Alexandria and the football coach there was William Boone and he recently spoke at Guilford College and I would be near certain to say that Jeff was there to hear him speak. Jeff talked often about his old high school and the fact that the movie was based upon what had happened there in football.
Of all of Jeff’s sports to cover I think baseball may have been his favorite. He would regularly be seen wearing a baseball cap and when he was living near the old ballpark at Yanceyville and Lindsey Streets you could find him at the ballpark on a steady basis even on his off days. Jeff split coverage duties for the Greensboro Grasshoppers for a season with Rob Daniels of the N&R(also a UVA grad) at the new stadium then known as First Horizon Park. Jeff would wear that ball cap even when he was out on assignment and he always carried a note pad and he would be feverishly taking notes. The man did his homework on all those assignments.
Jeff was a bit pre-mature gray on top with his hair but it helped you recognize him if he wasn’t wearing that ball cap and he would have that note pad with him taking notes and he wore glasses, and that made him look more studious. I can still see him now standing outside the locker rooms along with Brian Joura at the MLK Day basketball games at the Greensboro Coliseum back in January talking to Greensboro Day coach Freddy Johnson and Jeff was taking notes like a man possessed.
Jeff possessed skills that in memory, his family can be very proud of. Jeff had a sense of humor and didn’t mind having a laugh or two along the way but when it came to his stories for the paper he was all business. I have a lot of respect for the guy because he was out there in the field fighting the good fight covering sports.
We will miss Jeff Carlton and I am sure the News and Record will too. Dick Grubar, former North Carolina Tar Heel basketball star, had everyone pause and share in moment of silence in memory of Jeff before today’s basketball luncheon at the N&R.
Joe Sirera the N&R sports editor again had told everyone the very unpleasant news at around 11:50am, Jeff Carlton died this morning, February 21, 2008. Our thoughts go out to Jeff Carlton’s family. (We will list his exact age later today, believed to be 36/37 according to Joe Sirera. Jeff was 36 years old.)