Roger N. Warkins, a DeKalb native and former publisher of the Daily Chronicle known for his business savvy and fun-loving spirit, has died. He was 77.
Warkins climbed the ladder in his career from a paperboy to executive vice president of Scripps League Newspapers Inc., a company that owned 51 small newspapers, including the Chronicle.
Warkins, born Oct. 28, 1939, died Monday, June 5, 2017. He lived in Navarre, Florida.
He is survived by his wife of 52 years, Judith Warkins; two sons, Michael and Timothy Warkins; and three grandchildren.
Lewis Funeral Home in Milton, Florida, is handling arrangements, and a remembrance service will be held at a later date.
Warkins, a member of DeKalb High School’s Class of 1957, was named publisher of the Daily Chronicle in August 1980, after serving in that role for six years at The Dalles Chronicle in The Dalles, Oregon. It was a return home in more ways than one – Warkins was the Daily Chronicle’s circulation manager before taking the job in Oregon.
Steve Irving, owner of Irving Construction Co. in DeKalb, said he knew Warkins both personally and professionally for about 30 years.
Roger and Judith were godparents to one of Irving’s children, and their families were neighbors on Jennifer Lane in DeKalb.
“He was a fun-loving guy,” Irving said. “He liked to golf, play cards; he and his wife liked to travel a lot.”
He said Warkins was also forthright and fair. His memories with Warkins include eating pizza and talking investments on Friday nights.
“He had a good depth of business insight,” Irving said. “We’d sit for hours and discuss things like that.”
Karen Pletsch, current Daily Chronicle publisher, said she joined the Chronicle sales department in 1985 when Warkins was publisher, and he was “extremely supportive” when she was promoted to sales manager in 1991.
“I remember him asking me, ‘So, what next?’ I jokingly said, ‘I want your job,’” Pletsch said.
Pletsch said she always appreciated Warkins for being a “no-nonsense kind of leader.”
“You always knew where you stood with Roger, good or bad. I respect that,” she said.
DeKalb Mayor Jerry Smith said he knew Warkins professionally while working for a competing media company, and he saw Warkins and his wife involved in many community events.
“I remember as a publisher, he was one who moved up through the ranks,” Smith said. “He was one of the ‘local boys made good’ stories.”