Roy Stockdill, a former deputy features editor on the News of the World who later documented the history of the newspaper, has died suddenly at the age of 79.
Stockdill spent 30 years on the paper, starting off as a reporter and ending his career as literary editor, making him responsible for acquiring books written about the rich and famous and serialising them in the paper.
The Yorkshireman later co-authored the book 150 years: The News of the World Story.
Bradford-born Stockdill started at the Halifax Courier in 1956 as a reporter, then moved four years later to Leicestershire Live. He also had spells at the Coventry Evening Telegraph, The West Herts Post, and the Sunday Citizen.
After his retirement from the News of the World Stockdill was a books reviewer for the Today newspaper.
He was also a columnist for several years for the Watford Observer, the local newspaper where he lived from 1965 to 2015, writing about issues including nature and genealogy.
After his newspaper career, Stockdill turned his hobby of genealogy into a second career and carried out many investigations into the backgrounds of celebrities as well as helping readers in researching their family trees.
Former News of the World editor Patsy Chapman described Stockdill as an “argumentative, curmudgeonly, honest, funny, walking encyclopaedia”.
“You were a great colleague on the News of the World where you were an old part of the furniture before I arrived,” she said.
“You were a stickler for accuracy and grammar, as you would be as someone who had covered long involved court cases in shorthand since you were nobbut a lad in Yorkshire.
“Then you took your skills to Fleet Street, where you were described as a bouncing enthusiastic young reporter.
“You eventually became the eagle with the eye for books that the News of the World could serialise, knowing exactly what the readers wanted, thus pushing up the circulation of the biggest selling paper in the world.
“You were funny, knew everything about history, jazz, politics (in which we mostly disagreed, but then who wouldn’t?), football, athletics, and with a deep knowledge of world affairs and scandals going back many years. Well you were getting a bit ancient, but you remembered what the rest of us forgot.”
Stockdill died suddenly at his home in Poole, Dorset. He is survived by his wife Stephanie, whom he married in 1963 in Coventry, and their two sons Richard and Jeremy.