Saying goodbye to a great reporter

Staff Writer
Woodford Times

Absolutely stunned this morning to hear of the passing of one of my former colleagues from TimesNewspapers, DeWayne Bartels. He was editor of the Peoria Times Observer for many years and most recently the East Peoria Times Courier. Great reporter, great guy. My thoughts are with his family and the whole TimesNewspapers family today. RIP. :(

Nick Stroman, former employee and freelancer for TimesNewspapers

I can hardy come to grips with this. DeWayne and I went through some great experiences together. We didn’t see each other as much as we would like but talked all the time. I’ll miss being able to call ... Godspeed, man.

Brad Shellady, friend

My dearest friend and role model passed away. DeWayne Bartels was an incredible father, husband and grandfather. Not to mention the best reporter I have and will have ever known. RIP my friend.

Nathan Domenighini, former co-worker

So sad to hear about DeWayne Bartels. What an amazing, genuine person. Old school. They don’t make ‘em like you anymore.

Jonathan Wright

We have lost a star in our Universe. You were an icon with a heart as big as the heavens. My thoughts and prayers to your family and I hope you discover all the “answers” to all those big questions you always asked... and will now know. You will be missed dear friend.

Joy Erlichman Miller

DeWayne, I can remember looking at the stars with you when we first moved into the neighborhood, you gave me a sense of comfort knowing nice people existed in our neighborhood. I wish I would have taken the time to get to know you more. You will be missed.

Matthew Field

My Brother-in-law DeWayne Bartels passed away this morning in Peoria. DeWayne was a staple of the central Illinois papers for many years. He was a good husband, father and grandfather as well as a great reporter. Good bye bud.

Terry Hodge

Stunning news to learn that a colleague of my dad, DeWayne Bartels, just passed away. He was kind enough to wish me a happy birthday just a few hours ago. Many of you in the Washington, IL/central IL area read his newspaper articles. Thinking of his family.

Megan Foster Campbell

I was SO shocked to hear this – I just saw him a week ago (at the launch for the new Life Flight fleet)… and we last spoke Monday when he called for a condition report and we chatted briefly.

 My memories of him can be summed up with how he was when I saw him Thursday, July 19. He was very early for the fleet launch event for our new Life Flight helicopters – about 40 minutes early – which we know is unusual for journalists (who are lucky to just be on time!). He was SO excited about getting to fly in a helicopter. Limited members of the media got the other front seat position on the helicopter for their flight, but DeWayne wanted that view and I was happy to accommodate him. Before and after his flight, he was like a kid on Christmas morning with that sense of excitement and awe - he truly seemed to be enjoying himself and having the opportunity to have a bird’s eye view of his community.

 All of the years (and it’s been quite a few!) that I had known DeWayne he always had a healthy dose of cynicism – that’s what made him a good journalist. He wanted the facts, tried to filter the BS, and gave readers what they needed to know. Did he ruffle a few feathers along the way – sure. That’s what good journalists do – they’re not “yes” men. DeWayne was always a true professional. He will be missed.

  Shelli Dankoff

Senior Media Relations Specialist, OSF Saint Francis Medical Center

DeWayne Bartels was the best reporter I’ve ever worked with, both during my years at the East Peoria Times-Courier and as an employee of the City of East Peoria. His reporting was always fair and balanced, and very thorough. I think the East Peoria paper was truly excelling under his editorship. I covered my first court trial with DeWayne, and I was glad he was there since he had experience with that – I learned a lot from him. When I left the paper 14 years ago, I “willed” some of my desk toys to DeWayne, and he recently showed me that he still has them! His recent blog post about “decorating” my desk with cicada shells had me laughing, even though I hate those things! We also had debates about proper use of Associated Press style and punctuation, and I still have the certificate he gave me when I left the paper in which he purposely misspelled almost every word and punctuated it mercilessly.  I will always remember how he referred to his wife as “The Little Woman” in his columns, and how much he loved her and his family. Just this year, I met with DeWayne to be interviewed for a story and he had his granddaughter in tow as it was Take Your Daughter to Work Day. He said this was a tradition for them and I could tell how proud he was to have her with him. I will miss my friend and colleague greatly and offer deepest sympathy to his family.

 Jill Peterson

Public Relations


City of East Peoria

DeWayne was a dinosaur — he liked his job more than his salary and valued the truth more than popularity. And, he never met a story he didn’t like. He loved “serious” news, but I could assign him the most boring feature and he would come back, enthused, with some odd nugget of information that made it all worthwhile to him.

Although journalists are taught to keep their distance from those they interview, he made many friends through his work. That didn’t mean he wouldn’t zap them if they screwed up. Above all, he felt a responsibility to his readers.

I never met a person who loved his job more than he did. He was tireless, working all hours — all the while smoking Marlboros (?) and chugging Pepsi. He died doing what he loved best, writing.

Who he loved best was his family, and my heart goes out to them.

I admired and respected DeWayne more than I can say and will miss his sly wit and good-humored insults. TimesNewspapers just won’t be the same without him.”

Beth Gehrt, former co-publisher, TimesNewspapers

I interned for DeWayne the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college and will never forget the day he and I went scaling fences in order to get behind police lines to get the story. I was in a dress and heels, but didn’t care in the least — I was having a ball! DeWayne, thank you for helping show me that journalism could be both fun and a service to the community. Your vibrant voice will be missed more than you can know, as will your wicked sense of humor.

Amy Gehrt

City Editor

Pekin Daily Times

I was deeply saddened at the news of Dewayne Bartels’ passing. I want to extend my sympathies to his personal family and the entire Times Courier family as well. I had the pleasure of getting to know DeWayne during my years at the Sheriff’s Office and was excited to have the opportunity to again work with him as I began my job at the East Peoria Police Department. I admired DeWayne’s sincere interest in law enforcement, his skill and honesty in reporting a story, but mostly his sense of humor when just talking to him about anything. DeWayne was truly a good man and a good reporter who will be greatly missed.

 Dick Ganschow

Chief of Police

City of East Peoria

I’ve never known anybody who loved his work as much as DeWayne. I’ve known people who love their jobs but DeWayne loved the work of journalism. He was a dedicated professional. He will be missed in so many ways.

Linda Smith Brown

General Manager


DeWayne Bartels was one person you could count on to help with anything. You asked for someone to help and he was always the first one there saying, “What do you want done.”

I have worked with Dewayne since he came over to the Peoria Times-Observer from Tazewell County. He always had such a dry sense of humor and could make any one laugh, or make anyone shake if he came in the room looking for a story because they knew he would get what he came after. When our office was on Pioneer Parkway I always kidded him about his stories that if someone mean looking came in I knew it would be for him.

I have many memories of DeWayne that will always keep him in my mind. I am sorry for his family, all of us at the office and the Morton, East Peoria, Woodford and Peoria Counties for we have lost a mighty fine person that we will never replace. We’ll miss you, DeWayne.

Donna Reaska

Office Manager