Dennis Hoey, who spent nearly 40 years as a reporter at the Portland Press Herald, many of them in the high-pressure role of night reporter, died Saturday – just two days shy of his 70th birthday.

“Dennis was a rock star. He was always jumping on late-breaking news, turning around fully reported, cleanly written stories, often on complex topics that he hadn’t previously covered, on tight deadlines,” Press Herald Executive Editor Steve Greenlee said. “And he never seemed to stress out about anything. His even keel, sharp mind, speed and ability to craft crystal-clear prose have gotten us through a lot of tough nights.”

Hoey suffered a heart attack in late February while playing basketball and never fully recovered. He died peacefully at his home in Freeport. He leaves behind his wife of 37 years, Joyce Earle, and adult son, Kevin.

Except for a stint at the Waltham Tribune in Massachusetts after college, Hoey spent his journalism career at his hometown papers in Portland. He started at the Portland Evening Express in 1984 and moved to the Press Herald in 1990 when the evening paper folded. He was born in Portland and went to school in South Portland before attending the University of Maine in Orono.

Dennis Hoey, longtime Press Herald reporter, photographed in 1979 when he worked for the Waltham Tribune in Massachusetts. Courtesy of Joyce Hoey

Hoey covered a variety of beats at the Press Herald, including in the paper’s former bureau in Brunswick, but settled into the role of night reporter in 2008, a position that suited both his lifestyle and his news acumen. He was adept at covering any story that came his way and did so with a quiet confidence. He won numerous Maine Press Association awards for his work over the years.

Among colleagues in the newsroom, Hoey was revered as someone who had a knack for reaching sources and getting them to talk after hours. He had a sensitive touch that made people comfortable talking with him about tragedies or personal hardships but also could be direct and persistent when getting public officials to answer hard questions.


His old-fashioned Rolodex was filled with phone numbers of police chiefs, politicians and Maine celebrities.

Ray Routhier, a Press Herald features reporter who worked alongside Hoey for three decades, said he never met anyone who enjoyed being a reporter so much.

“While the rest of us reporters were always griping about something – editors, deadlines, the pay – Dennis repeatedly told people how much he loved his job,” Routhier said. “He loved working nights, and he loved covering the huge variety of news that happens at night, including murders, elections, or the death of some famed politician or artist. Most reporters would not want to work nights for so long and most couldn’t handle the wildly varying subject matter like Dennis.”

Jeff Ham, a former city editor for the Press Herald who worked closely with Hoey for years, said, “I knew I was covered when Dennis was my night reporter.”

“He was the most unassuming person in the newsroom, but he amazed us with the sources he reached at all hours and the interviews he got with them,” Ham said. “He had an uncanny touch with everyone from bad guys to politicians to grieving families. If Dennis couldn’t get the story in the few hours or minutes he was given, no one could. I’m surely not alone in saying he was one of my favorite colleagues ever.”

Often, Hoey would have to pick up a story from a dayside reporter and take it across the finish line. Routhier said just last year, he handed Hoey a feature obituary about a prominent Maine painter who had died.

“He finished the story with as much detail and polish as someone who had been covering the art scene for years,” Routhier said.

When he wasn’t reporting, Hoey loved exploring the beauty of his home state. He and his wife spent many vacations at Acadia National Park and visiting his sister’s camp in Rockwood.

“I am personally heartbroken,” Greenlee said. “I knew Dennis for more than 30 years. He was a superb reporter, a devoted husband and father, and one of the nicest guys you could ever meet. Just a decent, decent person. Not to mention an excellent basketball player, especially from behind the 3-point line. I had an impossible time covering him.”

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