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Retired Wheeling sports writer, Bedway, dies at 81

Regardless if you’re talking about Nick Bedway as a husband, father, sports writer, proponent of youth in the Ohio Valley or just a man, he’s a hall of famer in every category.

He left a lasting impact on sports fans and athletes throughout the Ohio Valley, on both sides of the Ohio River, through a career that spanned 45 years at The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register.

Bedway, 81, died Saturday at Wheeling Hospital.

He joined the Wheeling News-Register staff in 1960 as a copy boy and joined The Intelligencer staff as a sports writer later that year.

In 1967, Bedway joined the News-Register staff and was promoted to Associate Sports Editor in 1971. He became the News-Register’s sports editor in 1995 and eventually took over as executive sports editor, overseeing both newspapers, in 2000.

G. Ogden Nutting, publisher of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, worked with Bedway for the entirety of his career at the newspapers. He said Bedway prided himself on covering local events and local athletes both in his sports stories and his “Nick’s Notebook” column, and that he showed the utmost respect to all those he wrote about over the decades.

“The prime focus of Nick Bedway and the newspapers when he supervised them was local athletes, local coaches, local officials,” Nutting said. “From grade school football to the athletes at our local colleges, Nick felt it was important to highlight their accomplishments. Whatever the level of play, they were his local kids and he loved writing and telling the local community about all the special things they were doing.”

Nutting said Bedway, who followed Bill Van Horne in leading the sports staff at the Wheeling newspapers, earned and kept the community’s trust with his reporting and insights into local athletes. Bedway’s focus on highlighting local athletes in all sports has been hard to replace.

“We all read and enjoyed Nick’s stories, his interviews, and his columns until one day the scores were there, and your team either won or lost, but something else was missing … the special touch and the relevance. That was Nick, and he will be missed,” Nutting said.

Don Clegg, who is currently the sports information director at West Liberty University, took over as sports editor of the newspapers upon Bedway’s retirement. The two worked together for 22 years and formed a relationship that stretched well beyond just being co-workers.

“With the passing of Nick Bedway, our valley has lost one of the last true giants of the field and I have lost one of my oldest and dearest friends,” Clegg said. “Nick spent nearly a half-century covering the Ohio Valley sports world. Nobody loved their job more than Nick did and nobody did it better. Working together for decades at the N-R, we shared many great memories on the sidelines, but it’s the personal moments, in and out of the newsroom, that strike a chord for me and my family on this saddest of days. Nick was a courageous and loyal friend to all.”

When Bedway joined the News-Register staff, the position opening went to Doug Huff. Huff, who retired from full-time work in 2011 and served for decades as sports editor of The Intelligencer, said Bedway touched nearly every Ohio Valley athlete and every sport during his long career.

“Nick’s fingerprints were on a lot of different things because he was such a versatile writer,” Huff said.

The number of coaches and athletes that Bedway encountered and/or impacted during his tenure are far too countless to try to name, Huff said.

During his career, Bedway penned the weekly “Nick’s Notebook” column, which was awaited by readers on both sides of the river.

Bedway wasn’t just a sports writer who wrote about football or basketball. He was passionate and a proponent for all sports — both male and female.

“He wrote columns on numerous different topics, including high school sports, an area college column, golf, bowling and other specialty areas that Bill (Van Horne) and myself didn’t do,” Huff said. “Nick’s name won’t be forgotten by people in the sports fraternity around here for a long, long time.”

Bubba Kapral, also a retired executive sports editor for the newspapers, grew up reading Bedway’s work and then the two had the opportunity to work together.

“Nick served as a priceless mentor to me while also becoming a cherished friend,” Kapral said. “Nick authored a hall of fame sports writing career. His passionate, insightful and in-depth coverage of local sports was legendary.

“Nick was also a people person. I’ve never heard anyone say a negative word about him. It’s safe to say Nick is on the Mount Rushmore of Ohio Valley sports editors with Cal Pokas, Bill Van Horne and Doug Huff.”

Bedway was a 1958 graduate of Wheeling Central Catholic High School. He received the Maroon Knights Distinguished Service Award in 2020 from the Wheeling Central Hall of Fame.

“I had the utmost respect for Nick, not only as a writer, but as a person,” current Wheeling Central head football coach Mike Young said. “His honesty, integrity and respect toward the coaches will last in my mind forever. He is a true CCHS Hall of Famer.”

Bedway was inducted into the prestigious Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Hall of Fame in 2007. His work with the OVAC began basically upon his hiring at the newspaper.

He served as the co-publicity director for the OVAC All-Star Football Game from 1972 until 1990 and served as the conference’s standings statistician in football, boys and girls basketball and baseball for more than 25 years. In 1999, the OVAC dedicated its media guide to Bedway.

“During my tenure with the OVAC, you could always count on Nick being at the events,” said former OVAC Executive Director Tom Rataiczak. “He didn’t always agree with you, but he would always listen and was always fair. His legacy as one of the top sports writers in the Ohio Valley is secure, but it won’t be the same not seeing him at events.”

Regardless of what level area athletes or coaches were at during their career, Bedway made it a point to follow them even after they left the Ohio Valley.

Doug Wojcik, who is currently an assistant basketball coach at Michigan State University, got to know Bedway when he was a standout athlete at Wheeling Central, but their relationship stretched well beyond his time with the Maroon Knights.

“I practically remember Nick throughout my high school career then through the Naval Academy into my coaching career,” Wojcik said. “Whether it was the 1979 football state championship game to being the first CCHS basketball team to beat Park to the 1982 state championship, I feel like Nick was a part of it all. Nick continued to cover me as my career progressed at Navy, always including updates in the paper and would interview me when I was home for the holidays. When I think of Nick, I think of our dad and the relationship that he and Nick had back to their high school days.”

Dave Wojcik, a former Wheeling Central standout player who went on to a highly successful coaching career with the Knights and then at the collegiate level before returning to the Ohio Valley to coach at The Linsly School, said he was always grateful for the coverage Bedway gave him and his brother.

“Nick was a good man and he really kind of took my brother and me under his wing back in the day,” Dave Wojcik said. “He always followed our careers and wanted to know what we were up to. He truly cared. Nick wrote in a way that was firm, but also positive. He was to the point and said things the way they were supposed to be said. I truly enjoyed when we’d see each other out and about at games and different places when we weren’t expecting to see each other because we’d have the opportunity to fill each other in on what was happening in our worlds.”

Bedway’s passion for Ohio Valley sports stretched far beyond the prep scene. Whether it was the Wheeling Thunderbirds and Nailers, American Legion baseball, the Ohio Valley Golf Association, Wheeling Area Soccer Association or even the Allegheny Mountain District U.S. Tennis Association, Bedway did his best to bring attention to the organizations and those involved.

Former Wheeling Recreation Department director Tom Bechtel recalled times when he’d stop into the newspaper office with information on activities and events around the city and end up staying much longer than anticipated.

“Nick was one of the last of a dying breed,” Bechtel said. “He’s among the Cal Pokas and Bill Van Horne types of the newspaper industry who wrote great stories about the athletes who played the game. Those gentlemen had such (recollections) about sports history in the valley that it bordered on unbelievable. I was always entertained by Nick and those guys when I visited their office. Nick will be truly missed.”

Bedway is a member of the Wheeling Hockey Hall of Fame and also the Ogden Newspapers 20K Classic Hall of Fame in 2006. He twice served as an honorary referee for the West Virginia Super Six Class AA state championship football game at Wheeling Island Stadium.

According to WesBanco Arena Executive Director Denny Magruder, Bedway didn’t just report on sports. He played them, too. Magruder and Bedway were teammates on a newspaper-sponsored softball team in which Bedway was the pitcher.

“Nick was a dear friend,” Magruder said. “I worked with him at the newspaper over 50 years ago and our friendship continued over the years. He was always ready and willing to cover the many sporting events at the arena — everything from the Nailers to indoor football to monster trucks, to high school sports, Globetrotters or the Toughman. I will miss him very much!”

Nick is survived by his wife of 60 years, Judy, and children Rachel, Becky and Trey. He was preceded in death by a daughter, Michelle. He was the grandfather of five and a great-grandfather of one.

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