(NNPA) – Mary Alice Jervay Thatch, who often told the story of how as a baby, she used her diaper to clean the floor of the Wilmington Journal and who went on to become the editor and publisher of the historic newspaper, has died at the age of 78.
“My daddy used to say that I started at 3 or 4 months old, when I started crawling around on the floor,” Thatch recounted several times, often with a broad smile and chuckle. “I was hired as the janitor to clean the floor – with my diaper.”
A teacher and educated wordsmith, Thatch had an unsurpassed commitment to providing a voice to African Americans.
She took over the Wilmington Journal in 1996, following her father’s footsteps, former National Newspaper Publishers Association Chair Thomas C. Jervay, Sr., and grandfather, R.S. Jervay.
The latter founded the newspaper in 1927, while her father ultimately took over as publisher.
R.S. Jervay moved from Columbus County to Wilmington and found that the area lacked a Black-owned newspaper for three decades because of the race riots that destroyed the Daily Record, which had served all African American residents of North Carolina.
The elder Jervay founded the Cape Fear Journal, and the paper later changed its name to the Wilmington Journal.