Norman Lockman was born to be a newspaperman. During a career that spanned 50 years, he covered everything from Little League games to the Watergate scandal, and was a member of the team at the Globe that won a Pulitzer Prize for local reporting in 1984.
It didn't come easy. Mr. Lockman, 66, who died of Lou Gehrig's disease Monday in his home in Wilmington, Del., had to overcome racism to get his byline into wide circulation. His talent and perseverance would triumph over ignorance.
Mr. Lockman was raised in Kennett Square, Pa., where there were only two other African-American families. As a youth, he was not allowed to eat in the same restaurants with his white friends. He also had to sit in the balcony at the movie theater.
''The racism he encountered was substantial," John Taylor, editorial page editor of the Wilmington News Journal, said yesterday.
Mr. Lockman began his career as a reporter covering Little League games for his hometown newspaper, the Kennett News & Advertiser, when he was 16.
As a student at Penn State University, he worked at the Daily Collegian newspaper. He found satisfaction in newspaper work, being what he called a busybody -- ''peeking at other people's lives and situations from the sidelines and blabbing about it in the newspaper," as he wrote in 2004.
He spent so much time at the newspaper he didn't earn a degree.
The largest newspaper near his hometown, the News Journal, did not hire African-Americans at the time, so Mr. Lockman joined the Air Force and reported for a military newspaper in California.
After his military career, he was a social worker for several years. ''I had to become a social worker because major daily newspapers wouldn't hire black journalists, even if they had experience," Mr. Lockman once wrote in the News Journal. ''I had 10 years experience, four editing a military newspaper in California. I'd written a column for six years."
But eventually his persistence paid off.
''On May 1, 1969, a full year after the [Martin Luther] King assassination riots, I became the first black reporter to be hired full-time by the News Journal after years of applying," Mr. Lockman wrote.
A tall man with a fondness for bowties, Mr. Lockman did stints as a general assignment reporter, city hall reporter, and Washington bureau chief during the Watergate scandal that ended the Nixon administration.
From 1974 to 1984, he was a reporter and State House bureau chief for the Globe. In 1984, he was a member of the Globe team that won a Pulitzer for a series called ''Boston: The Race Factor."
In 1984, he returned to the News Journal as managing editor. Seven years later he became a columnist.
''He loved being a columnist," Taylor said. ''He loved to start up things."
Taylor said Mr. Lockman's insights on everything from education and city politics to race and the problems in the Middle East immeasurably enhanced the opinion pages of the News Journal.
Mr. Lockman was a founder of the Trotter Group, which widens opportunities for African-American columnists. He spoke many times at journalism training programs.
''Good journalism cannot be done by phone. It requires being able to scurry around, seeing, tasting, and smelling the things you write about from as close as possible without getting mixed up in the story," Mr. Lockman wrote in his final column in the News Journal last November. By that time he was using a wheelchair, as Lou Gehrig's disease slowly robbed him of his independence.
He felt he had seen too many journalists remain on the beat too long. It was a mistake he didn't intend to make. ''I'm going to hang up my slouch hat and turn in my press card while I can still bring this old career of mine in for a nice smooth landing," he wrote.
He leaves his wife, Virginia Trainer Lockman; his former wife, Carol Ressler Lockman; three daughters, Holly Quinn, Carey Corbin, and Elizabeth Lockman; and two grandchildren.
Funeral services are private.