James L. Cresson, 60


James Leedom Cresson, 60, a longtime Delaware journalist, died Monday, March 13, 2006, from injuries sustained in an automobile accident near Centreville, Md. Services for the Milford resident will be at 2 p.m. Saturday, March 18, in Reformation Lutheran Church at 613 Lakeview Avenue in Milford.

Cresson was born in Milford on May 12, 1945, the son of James and Edith Marjorie Mulholland Cresson. He graduated from Fishburn Military Academy in Waynesboro, Va., in 1963 and attended University of Maryland and Tusculum College in Tennessee. In 1968, at the height of the war in Vietnam, Cresson joined the U.S. Army. He developed his skills as writer and photographer while serving a year’s tour of duty in Vietnam and continued to use those skills over the next several decades as reporter, photographer, editor and publisher in Delaware.

At various different times over those years he wrote for Delaware State News, Middletown Transcript, Delaware Coast Press and the Cape Gazette in Lewes, where he was employed at the time of his death. Prior to joining the Cape Gazette in 1998, Cresson and his wife, Corinne, edited and published the Long Neck News in Sussex County. He won several awards over the years from the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association and was recently notified that he had taken a first-place prize for his reporting on Delaware Department of Transportation financial problems related to the depleted Transportation Trust Fund.

“Jim was a dog of a reporter,” said Cape Gazette Sports Editor Dave Frederick. “I remember a story he did on the pit bull maulings over in Delmar. It was an amazing piece of journalism. And most recently he did a piece on the new Korean War Memorial in Georgetown. It just struck me how much information — including local folks who had served in that war — that he found for the story.”

As a veteran, Cresson was particularly sympathetic to veterans’ issues and proud of his service in Vietnam. “He told me a story once of his last couple of days in Vietnam,” said his wife, Corinne. “He was stationed in Saigon and went out to interview a Green Beret troop. He spent the night with them in the jungle. They went out the next morning on patrol and he went back to Saigon to file the story. That whole troop disappeared — never another word from them. That stuck with him.”

Between journalism stints in Delaware, Cresson traveled the world, making his way as a wanderer through Africa and Europe. “He hitchhiked across the U.S. at least three times,” said Corinne, “and lived in Mexico and Arizona before returning to Delaware to stay in 1985.”

Cresson loved to sing and play guitar, was an accomplished carver and woodworker and had uncanny talent for finding Native American artifacts — especially arrowheads — in freshly plowed Delaware fields.

He was a member of Christ Episcopal Church in Milford and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.

In addition to his wife, Cresson is survived by a daughter and son, Tracy and Caleb, of Milford. He is also survived by his mother, Marjorie Cresson Dobson of Atlantic Beach, Fla.; a stepdaughter, Jessica Coffey, Milford; a stepson and daughter-in-law, Jeremy and Dee Coffey of Cocoa, Fla.; a sister and brother-in-law, Elaine and Larry Price, Glen Mills, Pa.; a niece and nephew, Susan Price and Brad Price of Glen Mills, Pa.; and one grandchild, Ryleigh Coffey of Cocoa, Fla.

Rogers Funeral Home in Milford is handling funeral arrangements. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial contributions to: SPCA — Sussex Chapter, 22918 DuPont Blvd., Georgetown, DE 19947.