Warren Wheat Obituary (1939 – 2023) – Lexington, KY

Warren D. Wheat, 83, a former reporter and editor at newspapers in Kentucky, Ohio, Washington, D.C., and South Carolina for more than 55 years, died early Sunday, July 23, 2023, in Lexington.

He was in recovery from heart disease complications when he died peacefully at Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Center – not long after visiting with family members Saturday evening.

Warren’s career in journalism spanned 55 years. He served as a reporter and day editor at the Kentucky Kernel before moving to the Winchester Sun and later the Lexington Leader. At The Cincinnati Enquirer, he was a reporter in the main newsroom and served as the Columbus bureau chief. He also worked in the Enquirer’s and Gannett News Service’s Washington bureaus. He was part of the initial team that launched USA Today in 1982, serving as deputy Washington editor and later reader editor for the editorial page. Later, he became the governance and national editor at The State in Columbia, South Carolina. Finally, he was editor of The News-Enterprise in Elizabethtown before retiring in 2009.

His career allowed him to interview a variety of figures, from presidents and celebrities to state legislators and members of Congress. By all accounts, Warren was a humble person. But he took great pride in his induction into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame in 2018. He loved UK, newspapers and journalism.

Wheat was born Aug. 23, 1939, in Covington. He was preceded in death by his parents, Margaret and Warner Wheat; and his dear brother-in-law, Johnny Bridges.

Warren is survived by his wife, Beverly; his sister, Judith Wheat; and his much-loved nieces and nephews, Donna Jilek, DonLee Holman, Chris Poore, Scott Preston, Mark Preston, Cindy Yeager and Debra Reus.

Warren and Bev first met at Randolph Air Force Base near San Antonio, Texas. Warren was in the Air Force and Bev worked in an adjacent building. They got married in Bev’s hometown of Donalsonville, Georgia. Throughout his time at the base,

Warren was a mentor and friend to many. He provided guidance and companionship to family members and co-workers. His sister, Judy Poore, cherished their daily phone calls, which could never occur during “Dancing with the Stars” or a Reds game.

Beyond his work, Warren enjoyed sports, including University of Kentucky basketball, the Cincinnati Reds and the Cincinnati Bengals. He was an ardent tennis player and runner, and a regular walker, walking up to four miles a day before he began having heart problems earlier this year.

He was an avid reader with shelves crammed full of books about politics and history. He also read every book written by John Grisham.

He was a dedicated member of churches wherever he and Bev lived, and he cherished his time as an usher at First United Methodist Church in Lexington.

Family members and friends loved his dry wit and humor, and they loved to watch Warren and Bev banter.

A brief service for Warren will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 29, at First United Methodist Church in downtown Lexington. Family and friends are encouraged to arrive around 10:30 a.m. in order to view pictures on display. They also be able to view the pictures after the service.

The family requests that instead of flowers, donations be made to the scholarship established in Warren’s name at the University of Kentucky’s journalism school. Donations can be made online via the link uky.networkforgood.com/causes/5039-journalism-media-enhancement-fund. Alternatively, checks made out to the University of Kentucky can be mailed to College of Communication and Information, Attn: Director of Philanthropy, 308 Lucille Little Library, Lexington KY 40506.

Published by The News-Enterprise from Jul. 26 to Jul. 29, 2023.

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