A FORMER Argus reporter and prolific author of Western novels has died after a decade fighting cancer.

John Dyson, who was retired and lived in Polegate, died on Saturday, June 14 aged 77.

Mr Dyson joined The Argus, then called The Evening Argus, in 1955 aged 18 and worked alongside Jack Tinker who went on to become a famous theatre critic.

In 1977 he left journalism and worked as a gardener until he retired in 2003.

His son Dominic Dyson, 51, a graphic designer and lecturer at University of the Arts London, said: “He had a great joie de vivre, a wonderful love of life.

Westerns “He liked swimming in the sea up until he was quite old. He always enjoyed life.”

John Dyson started penning Western novels in 1991, starting with Black Pete – Outlaw.

In total he authored 59 titles, the most recent of which, Bad Night At Crazy Bull, is scheduled to be published by Robert Hale in February 2015.

Although he travelled extensively in the 1960s he never visited North America, the setting of so many of his books.

Nevertheless his work was praised for breathing life into an old genre.

Dominic Dyson said: “He researched obsessively. He was really into digging out facts about the Old West that people didn’t know.

“All the time he was writing – he loved it.”

In 2004 John Dyson was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

After ten years living with the illness and a period of rapidly declining health, he chose to take his own life at Beachy Head.

Aside from Dominic he leaves grandsons Alfie and George and his sister Shirley.

There will be a celebration of his life at Jevington Village Hall near Polegate on July 3 for close friends and family.

He has left part of his estate to animal welfare charities such as East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and the Ambulance Service.

Dominic Dyson said: “We will miss him and we will miss his irreverent sense of humour.”