Missouri Newspaper Hall of Fame celebrates 20 years

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The Missouri Press Association hosted a 20th anniversary reunion during its Newspaper Hall of Fame ceremonies at the 144th annual MPA Convention.

Five new members, all of whom connected with newspapers in their youth, entered the Hall of Fame on Friday, Oct. 15, at The Lodge of Four Seasons. They were joined by 13 previous Hall inductees in celebrating 20 years of the Hall of Fame.

This year’s inductees are the late R.I. “Si” Colborn, Paris, Mo.; Harold Ellinghouse, Piedmont; Jo Hoffman, Lee’s Summit; the late Donald W. Reynolds, Las Vegas; and Robert M. Wilson, Milan.

They were selected from among nominees submitted to the Missouri Press Hall of Fame Committee. Inductees or their families receive Pinnacle Awards, and plaques with their likenesses will be displayed in the MPA building in Columbia and in the student lounge of Lee Hills Hall on the campus of the Missouri School of Journalism.

Inductees must have made exemplary contributions to the newspaper industry, lived honorably, influenced unselfishly, thought soundly and displayed community involvement.

Among early inductees to the Hall of Fame, whose names are familiar beyond the newspaper industry, are William Rockhill Nelson, Joseph Pulitzer, Samuel Clemens (Mark Twain) and Eugene Field.

Following are brief biographies of each inductee (in alphabetical order).


Robert Irvin “Si” Colborn

The late “Si” Colborn earned the respect of publishers around the country, who often quoted from his column in the Monroe County Appeal in Paris. Colborn used the column and the newspaper to promote and chronicle the community and its people.

Mr. Colborn starting working for The Appeal in 1917 as student correspondent in Paris High School. The family of B.F. Blanton owned the newspaper. Mr. Colborn became a partner of the family and worked with them for more than 50 years.

For many of his years with The Appeal, Mr. Colborn worked with another Hall of Fame newspaperman, H.J. “Jack” Blanton, the “Country Editor” made famous by painter Norman Rockwell. Mr. Colborn missed out on being in that painting because he was serving overseas in World War II.

After the war Mr. Colborn pitched headlong into the newspaper business and into service with local and state organizations. He was a founding member of the Mark Twain Lake and Cannon Dam Development Association. In 1983, at the age of 84 and after 20 years of work, he attended the ceremonies marking the closing of the sluices on the dam.

Mr. Colborn sold his interest in The Appeal to Carter Blanton in 1979, but he remained a fixture in the office and continued to write his column for seven more years. He died in 1987.


Harold Thomas Ellinghouse

Harold Ellinghouse has been a community newspaperman for nearly 50 years, all of them in Piedmont, Mo. He is the publisher of the Wayne County Journal-Banner in Piedmont and the Reynolds County Courier in Ellington.

Mr. Ellinghouse is the son of the late Charles Lee Ellinghouse, a 2005 Hall of Fame inductee and a formidable mentor who “liked to put out a good, big newspaper.” Mr. Ellinghouse, his father and his brother, Cletis Ellinghouse, were the first in southeast Missouri to use offset printing.

Mr. Ellinghouse can point to the spot in the back shop of the Journal-Banner where as a child he worked as flyboy stacking printed sheets from the press. He learned to set type by hand and helped with grocery ads and headlines. 

In 1980 Mr. Ellinghouse served as president of the Southeast Missouri Press Association. Missouri Press Association elected him president for 1996.

He has served and led local and regional organizations, including the school board, Chamber of Commerce, Wayne County Industrial Development Authority, Three Rivers Community College Advisory Board, Ozark Foothills Regional Planning Commission, Black River Electric Co-op Board and Highway 67 Corporation.


(Mary) Jo Hoffman

Jo Hoffman determined while attending grade school in Trenton that she wanted to be a newspaper reporter. Needing an outlet, she created a one-page newsletter. She worked on school publications through junior college and talked her way into a non-paying printer’s devil position at the Trenton Republican-Times. There she learned about photography and newspaper production and how to run a Linotype.

While attending the Missouri School of Journalism, Ms. Hoffman covered her beat on a bicycle and set type for the Missourian and the student newspaper. She became a stringer for the United Press bureau in Kansas City and went to work there after graduation.

Ms. Hoffman then became city editor of her hometown Republican-Times. She and her husband, Al Hewitt, bought the local Grundy County Gazette, a weekly, which they sold to the Republican-Times after seven years.

Ms. Hoffman joined the city desk of The Kansas City Star, and then became editor for the national VFW Auxiliary in Kansas City. She returned to The Star and eventually became assistant city editor.

She now lives in John Knox Village retirement community in Lee’s Summit. The first thing she did there was volunteer to deliver, then help edit, the village’s weekly newspaper and later its new monthly magazine.


Donald Worthington Reynolds

During his childhood in Oklahoma City, Donald Reynolds hawked copies of the Oklahoma News at the railroad depot. Later he worked at a meat packing plant while attending the Missouri School of Journalism.

Soon after graduating in 1927, Mr. Reynolds bought and sold his first newspaper. He used the proceeds to launch Donrey Media Group. After serving in World War II, he expanded Donrey Media to include more than 100 newspapers, radio and TV stations, outdoor advertising firms and cable TV systems, mostly in smaller, growing communities.

Mr. Reynolds created the Donald W. Foundation late in his career. Among its notable donations in Missouri were $9.5 million to the University of Missouri for the Reynolds Alumni Center and $31 million — the largest private gift ever to the University — for creation and management of the Reynolds Journalism Institute, which opened in 2008.

Mr. Reynolds died in 1993.

His foundation continues to provide funding for programs in journalism, medical research and nonprofit philanthropy all across the country.



Robert W. “Bob” Wilson

Bob Wilson began working for his father, Robert M. Wilson, at The Milan Standard when he was still in grade school. He hauled coal from the back room and swept out the shop.

Wilson graduated from the University of Missouri with a business degree in 1959. Five years later he became partner, editor and publisher of The Standard.

Over the years Mr. Wilson has kept up with changes in the community newspaper industry. The Standard was among the first weeklies in Missouri to use offset printing and computer typesetting. He believes his paper was the first weekly in the country to earn a postage discount for putting barcodes on address labels. Years ago he had an acquaintance create a computer program for mailing the paper.

Mr. Wilson served on the board of Missouri Press Association for nearly 20 years, and he served as president in 1999. He served as president of the Northeast Missouri Press Association in 1964. He has been active in state, regional and national newspaper organizations for decades.

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