Contact: Mark Maassen, Executive Director, Missouri Press Association
Phone: (573) 449-4167, ext. 308
Five new inductees are set to join the Missouri Newspaper Hall of Fame on Sept. 22, during the Missouri Press Association’s 157th Annual Convention and Trade Show in St. Louis. Established by MPA in 1991, the 2023 Hall of Fame class will be the 33rd group to be inducted.
This year’s inductees are the late Terez Paylor, a prolific sports reporter for The Kansas City Star and other outlets; the late Eugene Webster Sharp, a legendary journalism educator at the Missouri School of Journalism; the late Jane See White, a renowned writer, editor and journalism professor; Dr. Donald M. Suggs, longtime owner and publisher of the St. Louis American; and Dan Wehmer, publisher and owner of the Webster County Citizen, Seymour.
Hall of Fame inductees or their families receive Pinnacle Awards in honor of the inductees’ service to the Missouri newspaper industry and their communities. Inductees’ plaques will join the permanent display of inductees in the MPA office in Columbia and in the student lounge in Lee Hills Hall at the Missouri School of Journalism.
From his work at The Kansas City Star to Yahoo! Sports, the late Terez Paylor had a lasting effect on Missouri sports reporting. Lauded by his colleagues for his passion, knowledge and desire to help others, Paylor was seen as an industry-wide force for the promotion of other Black journalists.
Growing up in Detroit, Mich., Paylor graduated with honors from Howard University and moved to Missouri in 2006 to work for The Kansas City Star. He covered all levels of sports, including eventually being assigned the University of Missouri sports beat and then the Kansas City Chiefs beat for the newspaper.
At the Star he became a recognized authority for Chiefs coverage, and in 2018, he joined Yahoo! Sports to cover the National Football League. He developed and hosted a radio show on 610 Sports in Kansas City and made regular appearances on Spectrum Sports and KSHB 41.
During his career, Paylor became a selector for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Selection Committee, a prestigious honor for journalists covering the NFL. He also regularly attended the Urban Student Journalism Academy in Kansas City and was known for spending hours talking with other young sportswriters on the phone or in conversation at events like the NFL Scouting Combine.
Since his death in 2021 at the age of 37, Paylor’s fiancé at the time, Ebony Reed has worked tirelessly to raise more than $200,000 for two scholarships named in his honor, the Terez A. Paylor Scholarship for Howard University and the PowerMizzou Journalism Alumni Scholarship in memory of Terez Paylor.
With 45 years of teaching at the University of Missouri School of Journalism, Eugene Webster Sharp helped to shape the educations of thousands of journalism students, starting with his hiring in 1924 and continuing until retirement in 1969.
Sharp earned his bachelor’s degree from Princeton University in 1921, and his journalism degree the next year from MU. From 1922 to 1924, he was a reporter and editor for the Oklahoma City Times and McAlester, Okla. News Capital.
Dean Walter Williams hired Sharp in 1924 to teach reporting, advanced reporting and foreign correspondent courses, of which the latter was the first such course taught in the United States. He also served as city editor for the Columbia Missourian during much of what would become the longest faculty tenure at the journalism school.
Throughout a career that included teaching at least 10 individual Pulitzer Prize winners, Sharp was recognized for the patience, kindness and personal interest he showed his students. For many years, he served as MU’s advisor for the student chapter of Sigma Delta Chi, now the Society of Professional Journalists.
Following Sharp’s retirement, an endowed scholarship was created in his name, with the funding coming almost entirely from former students. He died in 1982, having made an indelible mark on MU and generations of journalists who walked its halls.
Journalism was in Jane See White’s blood from the time of her birth as the daughter of Robert Mitchell White II, editor and publisher of The Mexico Ledger. Her first taste of journalism came at the age of nine when she was the founding editor and publisher of The Mexico Junior Ledger, a summer weekly covering neighborhood news.
White was a 1972 graduate of Hollins College with honors and after graduating worked at the Roanoke, Va. Times for two years. She returned to Missouri to become a feature writer for The Kansas City Star, where she earned awards for an investigative series regarding state-run schools for the mentally disabled and another on state psychiatric hospitals.
Her stories were known by those in Jefferson City as having the kind of response that forced action from policymakers. At the same time, she was seen as a cohesive force for the newsroom, always pushing toward greatness.
She joined The Associated Press in 1976 as an editor on the World Desk in the New York City headquarters, and her time there included work as a member of a six-person team writing national feature stories. In 1991, White moved to Arizona and held various roles with the Phoenix Gazette and The Arizona Republic. From 2006 until her retirement, she was an editor and editorial writer for the Arizona Daily Star.
White also spent more than 16 years sharing her expertise and passion with future journalists as an adjunct professor with the University of Arizona School of Journalism. She died in January 2023, and her inclusion in the Hall of Fame marks the fourth of her family, including her father, her grandfather, L.M. White, and great-grandfather, Col. Robert M. White, to be inducted.
For nearly 40 years, as publisher and executive editor, Dr. Donald M. Suggs has helped lead and grow the St. Louis American, Missouri’s largest weekly newspaper. He has increased access for readers and advertisers, while at the same time serving as a dedicated, energetic and enthusiastic champion of community newspapers and the Black Press.
Among his first moves as publisher of the American, Dr. Suggs made the newspaper free of charge to reach as many readers as possible. By reaching more readers, the newspaper was more valuable to advertisers, allowing circulation to grow and reach even more households with distribution in area grocery stores and major workplaces across St. Louis and Illinois’ Metro East.
In 1988, Dr. Suggs started the American’s Salute to Excellence Community Awards, honoring outstanding individual citizens. With the formation of the non-profit St. Louis American Foundation, the newspaper expanded to highlight deserving individual educators, businesses and workers in business, healthcare and young leaders.
Thanks to the work of the newspaper’s leadership and staff, the American has been named the top Black newspaper in the country 14 times since 1995, as well as earning more than 1,000 industry awards for excellence in journalism, advertising and community service. The newspaper has also received Missouri Press Association’s Gold Cup Award six times in the Better Newspaper Contest.
Dr. Suggs’ record of accomplishments, awards and accolades is lengthy, including being named the National Newspaper Publishers’ Association Publisher of the Year in 2016, and the list of a dozen institutions of higher learning that offer scholarships in his name serves as a significant reminder of his ongoing commitment to making a better Missouri.
As a boy in Willow Springs, Dan Wehmer remembers his fondness for newspapers stems from walking through the offices of the West Plains Daily Quill with his older sister, a reporter there at the time, smelling the newsprint and ink. Now some 40 years later, he owns the Webster County Citizen in nearby Seymour, operating it longer than anyone else in the newspaper’s 116-year history.
Wehmer came to Seymour in August 1996 as a part-time special assignment writer and less than six months later was promoted to full-time associate editor, thanks to then-owners Gary and Helen Sosniecki, who saw potential in him and nurtured it. He took over managing the newspaper when it was sold in 1999 and was able to purchase it to become owner, publisher and editor in March 2017.
Today, Wehmer is known by many as “Mr. Seymour” for his dedication to the community, including volunteering annually for the Seymour Apple Festival (one of his first assignments to cover), and serving as an alderman since 2017. He is even the PA announcer during Seymour’s home basketball games and was made an honorary alumnus of the school.
Keeping his finger on the pulse of the community and never saying “no” to helping however he can, Wehmer has repeatedly shown the power a newspaper can have to improve its community. He has headed efforts to raise more than $350,000 to restore a landmark theater in Seymour’s downtown and led advocacy for a 75-cent tax levy that passed by a 2-to-1 margin (and had failed twice previously) to increase teacher salaries, because he felt it was needed for Seymour’s students.
The recipient of numerous industry awards, Wehmer has served as president of Ozark Press Association and board member for Missouri Press Association.
More information about the 2023 Missouri Newspaper Hall of Fame inductees can be found on Missouri Press’ website at www.mopress.com.
– 30 –