Dallas Gatewood III, a prolific former Newsday business reporter who chronicled how the economic downturn of the late 1980s devastated small farms on Long Island and across the country, has died.
Gatewood died Oct. 18 at a hospice care facility in Quiogue after a brief illness. He was 71.
An accomplished writer with a knack for telling trend stories with an intimate touch, Gatewood was known for his taste in tailored suits, German automobiles and as a frequent companion of East End novelists John Knowles and Willie Morris, family and friends said.
"Dallas loved being a journalist but also loved playing the role and living the life of a journalist," said his brother-in-law, Paul Teske, 67, of Pittsburgh, who compared him favorably with legendary journalists such as Tom Wolfe. "He was eccentric but a lot of fun."
Gatewood was born in Chicago and raised in Memphis, Tennessee, to Dallas Gatewood II, a shopping center manager and Navy fighter pilot, and Harriet Johnson, a homemaker. Gatewood was a graduate of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, and of the University of Iowa Writers Workshop.
While working at The Commercial Appeal, a Memphis daily newspaper, Gatewood met Kay Gilliland on a blind date.
"We fell in love instantly," said Gilliland-Gatewood. "After that, there was never anyone else. He was just a joy to be around."
The couple dated for several years and married in 1971. Three years later, they moved to Bridgehampton and eventually settled in Cutchogue.
Gatewood joined Newsday in 1974 as beat reporter in the Town of Babylon as a member of the paper's East End bureau in its Riverhead office. He spent most of his career on the business desk, covering real estate, the workplace and agriculture.
Gatewood's most memorable work detailed the struggles facing East End farmers from encroaching regional development, high production costs and dwindling federal aid. He traveled the country and to France and Belgium covering the "farm crisis" during the second term of the Reagan administration, when a record number of properties were foreclosed on because of falling commodity prices and high interest rates.
"Dallas was one of the best writers the business desk ever had," said former Newsday reporter Tom Incantalupo, of Mount Sinai, one of Gatewood's closest friends at the paper. "He worked really hard to produce good copy."
Newsday colleagues recalled Gatewood as the best dressed reporter in the newsroom, often impeccably attired in three-piece suits, no matter the assignment.
"He was well-read and loved to talk politics," said Carrie Mason-Draffen, another longtime Newsday business desk colleague. "He was real Southern gentlemen who loved tooling around in his fire-engine red Audi."
Former Newsday editor Steve Wick, now an executive editor at the Suffolk Times-Review, said Gatewood grew friendly with several well-known South Fork artists and novelists, including Morris, Knowles and James Jones.
"Dallas worked in a very rarefied world there, and they enjoyed his company as much as he enjoyed them," Wick said. "Many nights on his way home, Dallas could be found at the bar at Bobby Van’s in Bridgehampton with one of the writers."
Gatewood retired in 1995 and spent his later years traveling, visiting North Fork beaches and reading, Gilliland-Gatewood said.
Predeceased by his sister, Diane Teske, Gatewood is survived by his wife, brother-in-law and nephews David Teske of Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania, and Peter Teske, of Mobile, Alabama.
A memorial service will be held at a later date in Tennessee.