Newspaper Hall of Fame will induct 6 in September

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COLUMBIA—Six people, including a small-town husband and wife publishing team and the dean of the Missouri School of Journalism, will be inducted in September into the Missouri Newspaper Hall of Fame. The induction program will be Sept. 21 during the 146th annual Convention of the Missouri Press Association (MPA) at the Holiday Inn Select in Columbia.

This year’s inductees are Dave Berry of Bolivar, the late Bill French of Eminence, Tom Miller Sr. of Washington, Dean Mills of Columbia and Steve and Linda Oldfield of Adrian.

Inductees are chosen from among people nominated by friends, associates and family members. Induction is based on a long career of sound, ethical journalism and service to the Missouri newspaper industry and the community.

This will be the 22nd group to be inducted into the Newspaper Hall of Fame, which was established by MPA in 1991.

Inductees or members of their families receive Pinnacle Awards. Plaques with their likenesses are on permanent display in the MPA office in Columbia and in the student lounge in Lee Hills Hall at the Missouri School of Journalism.

Following are brief biographies of the inductees, in alphabetical order.

Dave Berry

Dave Berry serves as vice president of Neighbor News of Missouri and is publisher of the Bolivar Herald-Free Press and seven other weekly newspapers in southwest Missouri. A native of Aurora, he’s a 1975 graduate of Southwest Missouri State University, where he edited the student newspaper for two years and successfully challenged administration censorship. He worked for the Aurora Advertiser and the Mt. Vernon Lawrence County Record before and after college.

He became editor of the Herald-Free Press in 1977 and was named publisher in 1987. He was named executive vice president of Sterling Media Ltd. in 1989. The company owned weeklies in Bolivar, Buffalo and Stockton and a printing company until selling to the current owners in 1999.

Berry served as president of the Missouri Press Association in 2003, and has been active in press organizations, serving as president of the Ozark Press Association, Missouri Advertising Managers’ Association and Missouri Press Service, Inc. He was a regional director for the National Newspaper Association and has lobbied on legislative issues affecting the newspaper industry.

Berry’s civic involvement includes leading the Bolivar Area Chamber of Commerce and the Bolivar Rotary Club and serving on numerous local boards, including the Bolivar Board of Aldermen.

William Aden "Bill" French (1892-1980)

Bill French owned the Current Wave in Eminence, the Winona Shannon County Democrat and the Birch Tree Shannon County Herald.

He was editor and publisher of the Current Wave from 1937 to 1962. He became one of the Ozarks’ most prolific writers with distinguished careers in journalism and education. French taught school a few years, continued to write and mastered the printing trade.

His diaries and journals reveal a love of life in the Ozarks and a lifelong enthusiasm for hunting, fishing, farming and writing, from newspapers to novels. He wrote serial stories and four books: “Driftwood of the Current,” “Straight of the Hills,” “Oakley of the Ozarks,” and “Wrestling the Wilderness.” A St. Louis Post-Dispatch account noted the unique situation in which French “wrote the novels, edited them, set them in type, proofread, printed and bound them, then promoted and published them.”

Later in life, he recalled “the thrill that came to me when I saw one of my brain children displayed on the printed page with my name as author.”

Thomas L. Miller, Sr.

Former co-publisher of The Washington Missourian, Tom Miller, Sr. has been around newspapers most of his life. At kindergarten age he was catching newspapers off the press of his father’s newspaper in Milford, Iowa. His father, James L. Miller, Sr. sold The Milford Mail and bought The Missourian in 1937.

Tom started in the circulation department in 1957 after returning from military service in Korea. Then he assumed the post of advertising manager, leading that department into the mid-1990s.  Upon his father’s death in 1989, Tom assumed the role of co-publisher with his brother, William L. Miller, Sr., until Tom retired in 1996.

Under his leadership, the Missourian’s advertising department won many awards, including some 20 first-place awards in Best Advertising from the Missouri Press Association.

He served as president of the Missouri Press Association in 1992, president of the Missouri Advertising Managers’ Association in 1971, received the University of Missouri Honor Medal for Distinguished Service in Journalism in 1992, and he’s served on the board of advisors for the Columbia Missourian. 

Other board memberships include the Missouri Press Foundation, the State Historical Society of Missouri, Downtown Washington, and president of the Washington Historical Society.

R. Dean Mills

Mills began his career as a professional journalist. He became Moscow Bureau Chief for the Baltiore Sun in 1969, after earning a master’s degree in journalism at the Universit of Michigan and a bachelor’s degree in Russian and journalism at the University of Iowa. From 1972 to 1975, he was a Sun correspondent in Washington, D.C., where he covered the Watergate scandal, the resignation of Vice President Spiro T. Agnew and the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision.

Mills began his academic career at the University of Illinois, where he complete a doctorate in communications in 1981. Before coming to Missouri in 1989, he served as director of Pennsylvania State University’s School of Journalism and then as coordinator of graduate study in communications at California State University, Fullerton.

His research interests include international journalism, journalism ethics, cross-cultural journalism and qualitative methods. Mills is an author of a Ford Foundation study on race and the news and a book on cross-cultural journalism.

During his deanship, the School raised private funds to build Lee Hills Hall, which houses the Columbia Missourian, and to renovate two existing buildings and build one new one to create the Reynolds Institute facilities. Eight of the school’s endowed chairs, including the Missouri Community Newspaper Management Chair, were funded during his tenure. 

Steve and Linda Oldfield

Steve and Linda Oldfield, publishers of The Adrian Journal and The Drexel Star, are loved and admired by residents in their communities. For decades they have worked as a team to provide Adrian and the surrounding area with a newspaper every week having news and features that can be relied upon. 

One avid subscriber said, “Their dogged reliability to keep this newspaper going is a very crucial part of who they are. They have an old-fashioned perseverance and stick-to-itiveness and come hell or high water, they intend to ‘put out the Journal’ no matter what.”

Steve was president of the Missouri Press Association in 2006, president of the Central Missouri Press Association in 1989-90, served 12 years on the local Board of Education, and has been active in the local Lions Club and Chamber of Commerce. Linda was secretary of the Show-Me Press Association for years, secretary of the Adrian Chamber of Commerce, secretary of the Adrian United Methodist Church and served on the local Park Board.

Linda’s parents, Lila Gunn and the late Bob Gunn (both MPA Hall of Fame members), published The Journal beginning when Linda was 15 months old. Sweethearts since junior high, Steve and Linda married in 1974. In 1982 Steve joined The Journal staff. He and Linda have been partners in the newspaper business for 30 years.

One of Steve’s legacies is the MPA President’s Gavel that he designed in 2006. It is used each year as a new president takes office.

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