Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Pat Stith is retiring from The News & Observer, the paper reports today in a profile of the veteran investigator. At 66, he’s at a point in his career where retirement is not a surprise, but the buyout offers the paper recently extended to all newsroom employees spurred his exit.

Stith is a member of that generation of newspaper men and women who approach the job with a blue-collar work ethic. In this 2007 interview with WUNC’s “The State of Things,” he recalls the “real jobs” he worked alongside his father before becoming joining the profession. And in his 37 years at the Raleigh newspaper, he mentored countless younger reporters. I would have loved to be one of them.

From The N&O profile:

“If there are politicians out there cutting corners, they’re probably throwing cocktail parties to celebrate his retirement,” said Hugh Stevens, a First-Amendment lawyer from Raleigh who nominated Stith to the N.C. Journalism Hall of Fame in 2005. “You literally almost sleep better at night knowing Pat was watching.”

It worries me to think how many other watchdogs we’ll lose when the rest of the buyouts and layoffs are announced on Monday.