An obituary in Tuesday editions of The Washington Post on Chester M. Hampton, 57, a former copy editor of The Post who died Sunday, incorrectly stated that he was survived by his wife. His marriage to the former Dorothy Lamb ended in divorce. The obituary also incorrectly stated that Mr. Hampton was survived by his mother, Eva Hampton. She died when he was a child. He is survived by Grace Hampton, his stepmother.
Chester M. Hampton, 57, a copy editor on The Washington Post from 1967 to 1978, died Sunday at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Washington. He had been hospitalized with pneumonia and also had liver and kidney ailments.
Mr. Hampton learned the newspaper trade on a succession of black newspapers, first in the Deep South and then in Baltimore. In 1963, he became a copy editor on the Baltimore Sunpapers.
Copy editors perform a difficult task in a newsroom. As the last editors to read stories before they are set in type, they keep the seals of good grammar, style, readability and common sense. In this role, they sometimes come into conflict with writers. Although they are largely anonymous, copy editors also write the first things to catch a reader's eye -- the headlines on stories.
At The Washington Post and at The Sunpapers, Mr. Hampton was noted for the rigor of his copy editing regardless of who or what the writer was. Once at The Post, a reporter argued with him about changes Mr. Hampton had suggested.
"I'm trying to keep this conversation on a philosophical plane," the reporter said.
"The Philosophical Plane leaves from Friendship Airport in 30 minutes," Mr. Hampton said. "Go get on it."
Mr. Hampton joined The Post at a time when several young black reporters and editors were being hired. He was generous in helping the newcomers.
"Chet had all his life been positioned against the grain," said Herbert H. Denton, now the city editor of The Post. "He had stood up, he had survived. He would take us aside to a corner of the newsroom or sit with us in the glow of the bars near the paper and lecture us about strength, about having confidence in one's self."
Mr. Hampton also wrote occasional pieces and reviews for The Post. His topics ranged from the dialect of "Balamer" (Baltimore), on which he was an expert, to the memoirs of Red Fox, a 101-year-old Indian chief. He wrote of the latter that the "author and his views seem so removed from present reality that one can only hope Chief Red Fox grows up before he reaches 102."
Mr. Hampton was born in Toledo, Ohio, and reared in Dayton.Shortly after high school, he went into the Army and served in Europe in World War II. After his discharge, he went to Ohio State University on the GI Bill and earned a bachelor's degree in English. He also did some graduate work there in clinical psychology and was the sports editor of The Ohio State Lantern, the campus newspaper.
In 1950, he moved to Atlanta and was an English instructor and public relations assistant at Clark College. He began his newspaper career at The Atlanta Daily World in 1951. He stayed at the paper until 1956.
During part of that time, he was chief of the World's bureau in Memphis, Tenn., and also worked for the Memphis World, which was owned by the same company that owned the Atlanta newspaper.
Mr. Hampton once went from Memphis to Mississippi for a story about a 13-year-old black girl who had been sexually abused by white authorities. Whites learned of his business and chased him in cars. He eluded them by driving into some woods around a curve. His pursuers went right by him.
In 1956, Mr. Hampton moved to the Baltimore Afro-American. He stayed there until joining The Sunpapers in 1963. During part of that time, he was head of the Afro-American bureau in Richmond.
At The Post, he was known as an excellent chess player and a voracious reader.
Survivors include his wife, Dorothy L., and a son, Keith W., both of Baltimore; his parents, Eva and Early W. Hampton of Dayton, Ohio, and a brother, Earl W. Hampton of Philadelphia.