The Times West Virginian

In Today's TWV

April 24, 2007

Aynesworth: College opens doors, gives direction

Noted reporter addresses area student banquet

CLARKSBURG — Reporter Hugh Aynesworth has played basketball with Fidel Castro and was asked to serve as a pallbearer at Jack Ruby’s funeral. He interviewed John F. Kennedy in the shower, Lyndon B. Johnson in bed and serial killer Ted Bundy in jail.

“I’ve had my throat cut and I’ve been shot at,” Aynesworth told a group of students Monday evening at the 15th annual Harrison County Student Achievement Banquet at Village Square in Clarksburg.

He also tracked down the person who stole “most of” eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes’ money, chased James Earl Ray all over the South and into Canada after he shot the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., “and many, many other stories like that.”

A Clarksburg native who graduated from Roosevelt-Wilson High School and briefly attended Salem College, Aynesworth was the keynote speaker during the event in which 55 scholarships were given out to students from all over Harrison County.

Aynesworth witnessed and covered Kennedy’s assassination in 1963, and wrote a book in 2003 called “JFK: Breaking the News,” a companion piece to a documentary on the 40th anniversary of the event.

The six-time Pulitzer nominee (and four-time finalist) also co-wrote “The Only Living Witness” after extensively interviewing Bundy, who confessed to murdering 30 women prior to his 1989 execution.

Aynesworth touched on a few of the fascinating aspects of his life while at the same time encouraging the students to go to college.

“All of it comes back to why we are here tonight,” he said. “Many of you, I’m sure, will go immediately to college. It’s not only a requirement for you to have doors open for you later on, but it’s a help in teaching you discipline and giving you direction in your lives. So you’ve got to get serious about it.”

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