Former JDN publisher dies

William George “Bill” Oberst Sr., longtime Panama City newsman, joined Inga, his wife of 43 years, in Heaven on Saturday, Feb. 23, 2013.

Bill passed away at his home on Panama City Beach. Born Nov. 23, 1943, in Birmingham, Ala., to William Andrew and Frances Oberst, Bill grew up in Owensboro and Russelville, Ky.

Part of a devout Catholic family, Bill attended the Seminary as a young man and considered a life in the priesthood. After leaving the seminary, Bill attended the University of Western Kentucky at Bowling Green, where he studied journalism and was a member of the Naval Reserves.

After college, he served his country on the destroyer escort U.S.S. McNair and the U.S.S. Pocono, which was admiral McCain’s flagship. Honorably discharged in 1967, Bill began a long and distinguished career as a journalist. He served as a reporter at the Panama City News Herald, before joining the Associated Press (AP) as a reporter and editor at the Mobile, Birmingham and Atlanta bureaus. He had the opportunity to interview some of the world’s most influential people. He announced Jimmy Carter’s bid for presidency to the world; interviewed Wernher Von Braun, who helped develop the American Space Program; spoke with Martin Luther King, Jr., just days before his assassination; met with President Ronald Reagan and interviewed him multiple times; and covered the University of Alabama football team from the sidelines, getting to know Coach Paul “Bear” Bryant personally.

Bill and Inga relocated to Panama City in 1975 to raise their children Inga Leigh and Billy. They opened Billy Boy’s Bait and Tackle, which was located on Thomas Drive. At the same time, Bill worked as a radio newsman at WDLP, WPCF and WPFM, before joining WJHG Channel 7 as a reporter. He later served as publisher of the Jennings Daily News in Jennings before returning to Panama City Beach and WJHG, as assignment editor and reporter. He opened a weekly newspaper Metroin the early 90s, prior to joining the staff at Gulf Coast

William George “Bill” Oberst Sr.

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