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Washington Post Metro editor (and marathonerVernon Loeb is leaving the paper to become managing editor of the Houston Chronicle, as Jim Romenesko reported last night. Here’s the official memo from Post editor Marty Baron and managing editor Kevin Merida on the news:

To the staff:

We regret to announce that Vernon Loeb is leaving to become managing editor of the Houston Chronicle.

We are losing a newsroom leader of great enthusiasm, energy, and generosity, whose affection for his staff and this newsroom is abundantly reciprocated.

Vernon has been Local Editor since February, 2011. And ever since he has led a talented team of local reporters and editors through fast-breaking news stories and the most penetrating investigations. He oversaw coverage of the federal probe of the D.C. mayoral election, the expansion of gambling in the region, approval of gay marriage in Maryland, tumult at UVa, a hard-fought Virginia governor’s race, the Navy Yard shooting and, yes, the birth of a panda.

Such is the life of the Local Editor, who directs the largest staff at the paper and whose professional life is filled with nonstop action and relentless pressure. Vernon embraced his job with boundless enthusiasm for news, the people who make it and the people who cover it.

This was Vernon’s second stint at The Post. From 1994 to 2004, Vernon turned his impressive reportorial skills to covering then-“mayor for life” Marion Barry. He moved on to cover national security and then the Pentagon, which he was covering on September 11, 2001. After reporting on the war in Iraq, Vernon left The Post in 2004 to become California investigations editor at The Los Angeles Times. From there, he returned to his first paper, The Philadelphia Inquirer, as deputy managing editor for news before rejoining The Post.

In his spare time – we’re not sure how he finds any — Vernon is also a marathon runner. Lucky for us, too. Last April, shortly after he crossed the finish line of the Boston Marathon some 45 minutes before the bombs went off, Vernon immediately turned from athlete to reporter, filing for the web and the paper, and later producing a memorable first-person piece.

We will miss Vernon’s energy, stamina, and kindness. He has been a key, and admired, figure in our newsroom over many years. We know he’ll succeed in Texas.

Vernon’s last day at The Post will be Dec. 27. We’ll begin the process of selecting his replacement immediately.

Marty     Kevin

Photo by Darrow Montgomery