Terence Dalto
Terence Dalto (C. Kurt Holter / HANDOUT)

Terence A. "Terry" Dalton, a former reporter who later became a professor of journalism at McDaniel College, died Friday of Alzheimer's disease at SpiriTrust Lutheran Home Care & Hospice in Gettysburg, Pa.

The former Westminster resident was 71.

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"He was a guiding influence at an impressionable time for me. I owe my career to Terry Dalton because he set me on the path, and I'll love him forever," said Thomas Roberts, an Emmy Award-winning NBC and MSNBC anchor and correspondent who graduated from McDaniel in 1994.

"Before he came to McDaniel as a college professor, he had been a practicing, boots-on-the-ground reporter for a number of years, and he passed that enthusiasm on to his students," said Kathy Mangan, an English professor whose office was next door to Mr. Dalton's for 20 years.

The son of Andrew J. Dalton, a men's clothing buyer, and Emily S. Dalton, a courthouse clerk, Terence Andrew Dalton was born in Morristown, N.J., and raised in Mendham, N.J., where he graduated in 1963 from West Morris Regional High School.

Mr. Dalton fell in love with newspapering as a child. He founded, reported and edited a newspaper that was typed by his mother, which they distributed throughout their neighborhood. He later worked on his high school and college papers.

He attended Lafayette College in Easton, Pa., from which he earned a bachelor's degree in history in 1967. After college, he enlisted in the Air Force and was stationed at Sheppard Air Force Base in Wichita Falls, Texas, where he was an information specialist and wrote for the base newspaper.

Discharged with the rank of sergeant in 1971, Mr. Dalton entered Pennsylvania State University, where he earned a master's degree in journalism.

In 1981, he married Kathy Ianello, who was also a graduate of the Penn State journalism program and was studying for a doctorate in political science.

During their honeymoon in the Bahamas, the couple met and interviewed Muhammad Ali, who was training for his last fight, against Trevor Berbick, which he lost in a 10-round decision.

He then began his career as a reporter, covering courts and both state and national politics for the Centre Daily Times in State College, Pa., eventually rising to state government reporter and state editor.

In addition to covering politics at the Statehouse in Harrisburg, Pa., Mr. Dalton interviewed Presidents Gerald R. Ford, Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush, and also wrote about governors, members of Congress, presidential candidates and civil rights activists.

He was a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, the Harrisburg Capitol Press Corps and the Pennsylvania Legislative Correspondents' Association.

He left the Centre Daily Times in 1985 and joined the faculty of Castleton State College, now Castleton University, in Castleton, Vt., where he taught basic newswriting and public affairs reporting, and was the faculty adviser for the student newspaper.

Mr. Dalton and his wife left Vermont in 1990, when he joined the English Department at McDaniel and she became a professor of political science at Gettysburg College.

Under Mr. Dalton's tutelage, the journalism program was expanded at McDaniel, where he established a journalism minor in 1992. He also taught courses in media ethics and politics and founded a chapter of the Society of Collegiate Journalists.

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He had a reputation as a hands-on adviser to the student newspaper, The Phoenix, providing one-on-one critiquing sessions with editors and reporters.

"As part of my degree, I had to do an internship, and I had missed the deadline for The Sun. Terry let me do it for CV3, a cable station, and that was the day I fell in love with TV news," Mr. Roberts recalled.

"He was a fair, loving and guiding kind of guy, and he looked like the typical college professor, with crazy hair, glasses and sweaters," Mr. Roberts said with a laugh.

"He was a wonderful teacher, and he gave us good feedback so we could grow. He didn't have a mean bone in his body, and if he gave you a bad grade, you couldn't be mad at him," Mr. Roberts said. "He was definitely a well-loved professor."

"I could hear him counseling students who thought that perhaps he was treating them too harshly, and I'd smile," Ms. Mangan said. "What Terry was doing was passing along his passion for language and facts, and he wanted them to understand how important they both were."

He also brought local and national correspondents to McDaniel as guest speakers.

Mr. Dalton was a member of the Association for Educators in Journalism and Mass Communication, where he co-founded an interest group for journalism educators at smaller institutions and organized and moderated panels on press coverage of major news events.

He retired in 2012.

He also contributed op-ed pieces which were published across the nation, as well as articles about trends and ethics in journalism that were published in the Columbia Journalism Review.

He was an avid baseball fan and a former die-hard follower of the Brooklyn Dodgers. He later transferred his enthusiasm to the Montreal Expos, now the Washington Nationals.

A former Westminster resident who moved to Gettysburg 16 years ago, he enjoyed attending baseball games with his sons and coaching their soccer and Little League teams.

"He had an unyielding commitment to treating others with fairness and respect," a son, Andrew Dalton of Gettysburg, wrote in a profile of his father.

"He brought energy and passion to everything he did, and through his teaching, impacted several generations of budding journalists, with some going on to careers with major newspapers and television networks."

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Feb. 19 in Baker Chapel on the McDaniel campus in Westminster.

In addition to his wife of 35 years and his son, Mr. Dalton is survived by two other sons, Trevin Dalton of Alexandria, Va., and Brendan Dalton of York, Pa.; a brother, Dennis Dalton of Portland, Ore.; and three grandchildren.

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