John Lambeth leaves lasting legacy for Coast fishermen

Published online: Sep 16, 2010 News Anita Lee -
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John Lambeth excelled at several careers over a lifetime, but will be best remembered for his love of family, friends and fishing.

Lambeth, who loved both saltwater and bass fishing, left a legacy for sports fishermen on the Mississippi Coast. He passed away Monday, at age 62, after an illness of several months.

Long Beach veterinarian James W. Randolph spent many a memorable hour on the water with Lambeth. "Sometimes you hear people say, `So-and-so was the best friend you could ever hope for.' It wasn't that way with John and me. John, simply, was the best friend a guy ever had.'

Before moving to the Coast, Lambeth worked as the nation's youngest police chief in Weir, Miss., after serving in the U.S. Navy in Vietnam. He met his beloved wife of 30 years, B. Marie Harris, at his first newspaper job

"In 1975 I was editor of the Daily Times Leader, a small-town newspaper in West Point," said Harris, now the Sun Herald's Opinion page editor. "A good friend, Jim Waide, knew we had an opening for a city editor and asked me what the job required. I said, `A good understanding of how city and county governments work, a good command of the English language, and the get-up-and-go to get out and find the news.'

"Jim said, `I think I have just the guy for the job. He's in law enforcement, but he's looking for a change. He's cocky as hell, but I think you can get along with him.'

"I guess I did. He was an outstanding reporter, became a trusted friend, and five years later Jim served as the best man at our wedding."

Lambeth joined the Sun Herald staff in 1983, serving as news director for Sun Herald Cable News.

"He took a concept and made it real," said the Sun Herald's Mike Lacy, who served as assistant news director and anchor for the venture. "He was one of the few brave souls who did what no one else had done, and that was to make a television version of the Sun Herald. He was a very strong leader working with an unproven concept. He made it work."

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