A longtime member of the Sedalia news community died last week.
Peter Daniels, of Sedalia, died at home Oct. 2 at age 79. According to his obituary, he emigrated to the United States from Germany with his mother in June 1951, becoming a citizen two years later.
He didn’t know English when they came to America but he started school at Sacred Heart just a few months after their arrival. He didn’t let that stop him and he quickly learned English, eventually landing a proofreading job at the Sedalia Democrat after graduation.
He later became a reporter at the Democrat. Doug Kneibert joined the Democrat staff in 1967 as managing editor when Daniels was a reporter. When Kneibert became editor in 1971, he named Daniels as managing editor, according to Kneibert.
“Pete was the go-to person when the Democrat got personal computers in the newsroom in the early 1970s, as he had some technical savvy that I totally lacked (and still do),” Kneibert said. “... Pete was a good newsman and contributed to the steady improvement of the Democrat that made it an essential element in most every Pettis County household.”
Daniels later served as editor of the Central Missouri News, later known as the Sedalia News-Journal, for 10 years until his retirement, his obituary states. The News-Journal ended publication in 2015.
“I was always amazed how fast he could type up his stories, barely glancing at the keyboard as his fingers flew across the keys,” said Randy Kirby, who became editor of the News-Journal after Daniels’ retirement and now works as a reporter for Townsquare Media in Sedalia. “I have yet to achieve that kind of speed. He was a true professional as a journalist, especially in light of the fact that he didn't speak a word of English when he arrived in the U.S. in 1951. And then to go on to become a proofreader, writer and later editor of a newspaper was very impressive to me.”
Kirby said he learned a lot about AP style and how to interview people from Daniels. He added that Daniels’ weekly interviews with area residents for Community Profile were a learning experience for Kirby as he listened and photographed the subjects.
“Every day as I'm typing up obits, community calendar and news events, I still use the style he taught me when he was my editor decades ago. And I know it's the proper way, which gives me confidence that's done right,” Kirby said.
According to his obituary, Daniels described himself as a "retired newspaper editor and a lifelong journalist." Kirby said Daniels also spent a lot of time volunteering at the Sedalia Police Department.
Pete is survived by his wife, former Sedalia City Councilwoman Susan Daniels, his daughter Margo (Chris) Mathewson, three grandchildren, three great-grandchildren, his brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law, and several nieces and nephews.
A memorial gathering will be at 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 12 at Fitter's 5th Street Pub in downtown Sedalia. Arrangements are under the direction of Heckart Funeral Home in Sedalia.