He's been considered a jack of all trades in the news world for more than half a century, but now John "Jack" LaDuke is hanging up his press hat. However, don't expect him to fade into the background.
The veteran reporter for WCAX-TV will retire at the end of this year, ending his 17-year career as a full-time employee for the Burlington-based television news station.
LaDuke's career in journalism, however, extends far beyond that of his time at WCAX, a role for which so many know him today. In fact, he began the pursuit of his passion for reporting and photography during the 1940s in his native Keeseville, while enrolled in the Boys Scouts of America.
"When I was 12 years old, I used to report to the Essex County Republican in Keeseville on Boy Scouts activities every week," LaDuke recalled.
It wasn't long after LaDuke had the opportunity to take his interest in reporting to the next level. When he was 15, he began writing a weekly report and taking photographs for the Albany Times-Union, who published his work in their Upstate Living section.
During the 1960s, LaDuke worked for Denton Publications, the corporation which publishes this newspaper. The business created Adirondack Life, a then tabloid-style newspaper insert that was eventually sold and still exists today as a bimonthly magazine.
"There was an editor by the name of Bob Hall, art director Pat Hanson, [owner] Bill Denton and myself. We just got together one weekend, put it together and started publishing the next week," LaDuke recalled. "We printed, I think six or seven different papers at the time and it was inserted in all the different papers. It was a big contribution and a very exciting time."
Throughout the years that followed, LaDuke assumed various roles as a reporter and photographer, including one that took him to Central America, where he trained young people in educational television to make films and take still pictures. It was there LaDuke covered a devastating volcano eruption in Nicaragua which "virtually covered the city," he recalled.