Longtime Michigan journalist Barton Deiters dies of complications from West Nile virus

George Hunter
The Detroit News

Grand Rapids — Longtime print and television journalist Barton Deiters died Friday of complications from the West Nile virus, which he contracted from a mosquito bite. He was 56.

Deiters spent more than 30 years in journalism, mostly as a criminal justice reporter at the Grand Rapids Press and WOOD TV in Grand Rapids, and also owned a comic book store. 

Barton Deiters

In a Facebook post Friday, his wife Lorena wrote: 

"Last September, as West Nile Virus encephalitis took hold of Bart’s body robbing him of his speech, his muscles, his mind, I asked him to make me a promise. I asked him to fight.

"For nearly eight months, he fought. He fought to get stronger. To heal. To get his life back. Today, I told him he didn’t have to fight anymore. So the love of my life, my soulmate and best friend and the wonderful father to my two amazing children peacefully passed on a few hours ago.

"I don’t know what to say now,"  Lorena Deiters wrote. "What to do. What to think. I only know that I was fortunate that he chose me to share his life. His love is and always will be my most cherished gift."

Barton Deiters was born in Wyoming, Michigan, and graduated from East Kentwood High School and James Madison College at Michigan State University. During college, he worked for the State News and WKAR public radio.

Deiters started his career as a print reporter for the Detroit Free Press, Lansing State Journal, Holland Sentinel and the Grand Rapids Press, where he spent 16 years, before moving to WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids.

According to the WOOD-TV website, Deiters was diagnosed with the virus in the fall of 2020, and had been in and out of hospitals for several months, sometimes requiring a ventilator. 

The virus is spread  from birds to humans by mosquitoes. The symptoms include fever, headache, muscle ache, skin rash, and sometimes encephalitis or meningitis

In addition to Deiters' wife, survivors include two children, Harrison and Sophie.