Hendersonville High has long history of award-winning journalists

As generations come and go at Hendersonville High School, an interesting thread weaves through the eras. For a small school in a relatively small town, Hendersonville High has produced a large number of journalists, many of whom have reached the upper levels in the media world.

The Vloice of the Tigers Don Munson poses with the Tigers mascot during a recent event at Clemson, S.C.
The Vloice of the Tigers Don Munson poses with the Tigers mascot during a recent event at Clemson, S.C.

From the radio voice of the Clemson Tigers to a publisher of the Los Angeles Times to a Pulitzer Prize-winning deputy chief of investigations for the Wall Street Journal, Hendersonville alumni have made major contributions in journalism.

Among the forerunners of Hendersonville graduates who distinguished themselves was Bob Kappstatter, class of 1961. He studied journalism at Furman University and went on to a 43-year career as an award-winning reporter and columnist for New York Daily News. Kappstatter covered several major stories, including the Son of Sam serial killer, the Dog Day Afternoon bank robbery (immortalized in a movie starring Al Pacino), and the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centers.

Kappstatter left the New York Daily News in 2011 and worked as columnist for the Bronx Times-Reporter and writer for New York Lifestyles Magazine before recently returning to the Daily News as night weekend editor.

Lee Pace, Hendersonville class of 1975, studied journalism at UNC and excelled in two areas – covering Tar Heels athletics, and authoring 20 books about golf in Pinehurst and the Carolinas. Pace remains active as a writer for GoHeels.com and sideline reporter for UNC football radio broadcasts, while writing about golf.

Robin Tolleson, born in San Francisco, moved to Hendersonville in the 1970s and graduated from HHS in 1974. He earned a degree from Appalachian State before returning to San Francisco for a career as a journalist and musician.Tolleson wrote thousands of articles during 40 years as a music journalist for such publications as Billboard magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, Modern Drummer and Guitar Player. Famous musicians he interviewed include Carlos Santana, Whitney Houston, George Benson and Branford Marsalis.

Tolleson came back to Hendersonville in 1999 and wrote for several publications, including the Times-News, while directing the Hendersonville Community Music Center from 2017 until his death in 2019. Like Tolleson, Tim Ryan’s family moved to Hendersonville in 1970s. Ryan attended Hendersonville High for two years (1973-74) before returning to Chicago to graduate from high school and college. Ryan went on to become publisher of The Baltimore Sun and culminated his career as publisher of The Los Angeles Times.

The voice of the Clemson Tigers, Don Munson, HHS class of 1980, graduated from Appalachian State in 1984. His broadcasting career started with high school football games on WHKP. After stints as play-by-play voice of Appalachian State and Western Carolina, Munson joined Clemson’s athletic department in 1995 and worked his way up to play-by-play announcer for football and basketball in 2014. Since then, he has called two Clemson football national championships.

Amy Bonesteel Smith (’82) studied journalism at East Carolina and earned a master’s from Georgia State before embarking on a career that included 13 years as a correspondent for Time magazine and 30 years as a contributor to Atlanta Magazine. Other outlets for Smith’s freelance work include Chicago Sun-Times, New York Times Magazine, Parade and Our State magazine. Her brother, Paul Bonesteel (’83), is an award-winning documentary filmmaker.

Jennifer Schuller Forsyth (’85), earned degrees from UNC Asheville and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. After working at various newspapers, her career took off as an award-winning investigative reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

From there, Forsyth moved to the Wall Street Journal, where she rose to deputy chief of investigations. She was part of the Wall Street Journal team that won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting in 2019, and is now Washington investigations editor at The New York Times.

Patricia Falvo Held (’87) earned an English degree from Purdue and moved to New York City to pursue a career in the magazine world, starting with an internship at Mother Earth News. Held became a staff writer at New York magazine, where she profiled Julia Stiles and wrote about thrift shopping with Cynthia Rowley. From there, she moved to Allure as senior writer and wrote a cover profile of Britney Spears. Later, she worked part-time at US Weekly and In Touch.

Justin McGuire (’86) graduated from UNC and went on to become a senior editor at The Sporting News. His son, Cameron McGuire (’21) is currently a student writer for the Elon University athletics and other media outlets, and could one day join in a long line of HHS journalism standouts.

This article originally appeared on Hendersonville Times-News: Hendersonville High has long history of award-winning journalists