Former Times O.C. edition writer, editor dies at 64

Shearlean Duke, 64, a former Los Angeles Times features writer and features editor of the Orange County edition and Newport Beach resident who later became chairwoman of the journalism department at Western Washington University in Bellingham, Wash., died of brain cancer Feb. 2 at her home in Bellingham.

Hired as a reporter for the Orange County edition of The Times in 1972, Duke was an award-winning feature writer for the View section from 1974 to 1981. She became the edition's assistant city editor in charge of features in 1981 and its View and Calendar editor in 1982.

After she left The Times in 1984, Duke and her husband, Bob, spent more than a year sailing in the Gulf of California on their 35-foot cutter.

Returning to Newport Beach, they established a public relations business in Costa Mesa. Duke also wrote education and boating columns, as well as feature stories, for The Times' Orange County edition.

After earning a master's degree from Chapman University in Orange when she was 50, Duke taught journalism at East Carolina University in Greenville, N.C., and at Western Washington, where she established the journalism department's public relations program.

Born June 21, 1946, in Copperhill, Tenn., Duke earned a bachelor's degree in history from Tennessee Technological University in 1968. She worked at the Cookeville (Tenn.) Herald-Citizen, the Houston Post and the Orange County Register before joining The Times.

Wire services contributed to this report.

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