Journalists

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Allbright, Charles Wilson

Charles Wilson Allbright was one of the best-known and most widely read newspaper columnists in Arkansas. Allbright wrote for the Arkansas Gazette and its successor the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, served as a speech writer, and authored several books. Charles Allbright was born on February 5, 1929, in Oxford, Mississippi, to Brice and Nita Allbright. In an interview conducted by Michael Haddigan in March 2000, Allbright stated, “I was born in Oxford, Mississippi, which has nothing to do with my life except that is where my mother’s parents were. And, in those days, it took two weeks to have a baby, and you’d go where your parents are, and they’d take care of you, so I was born at Oxford.” At the …

Barton, Dorothy Yarnell

Dorothy Yarnell Barton was a dedicated educator who taught at the secondary level and later as a professor at schools in Arkansas and Louisiana. She was also a prolific writer and wrote on subjects such as education theory, family history, and travel. Dorothy Atwood Yarnell was born on May 6, 1900, in Searcy (White County) to local salesman James S. Yarnell and his wife, Margaret Yarnell. She had one sibling, a brother named James who was born in 1903. She was also first cousin once removed to Ray Yarnell (1896–1974), who began the Yarnell Ice Cream Company in 1933. Dorothy Yarnell spent her childhood and young adult life in Searcy and attended Galloway Women’s College, graduating with a BA in …

Deane, Ernie

aka: Ernest Cecil Deane
Ernest Cecil (Ernie) Deane—journalist, teacher, historian, and folklorist—was best known for his newspaper columns, “The Arkansas Traveler” and “Ozarks Country.” He taught journalism at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington Couny) and was a proponent to restore Old Main to its historical character at the UA campus. Ernie Deane was born on October 29, 1911, in Lewisville (Lafayette County) to Ernest Deane, a railroad engineer, and Mabel Drew Deane. He attended public schools in Lewisville and Texarkana (Miller County). He received a bachelor’s in journalism in 1934 from UA, having served as editor of the Arkansas Traveler, the UA newspaper, and studied under the founder of the journalism department, Walter Lemke, whom Deane considered his mentor. Deane earned …

Dearmore, Thomas Lee (Tom)

Thomas Lee Dearmore was a nationally recognized journalist and newspaper editor. A native of the Ozarks, Dearmore focused on politics and music in his writing. He worked at newspapers in Washington DC and San Francisco, California, and was an editor at the Arkansas Gazette for two years in the 1970s. Like his contemporary Harry Ashmore, Dearmore was a new breed of southern journalist who sought to distance Arkansas and the South from a segregationist past. Tom Dearmore was born in Mountain Home (Baxter County) on September 11, 1927. He was the son of Benjamin Dearmore and Ethel Shiras Dearmore, both of whom were natives of Arkansas. During World War II, he was stationed in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where he …

Douthit, George Clinton

George Clinton Douthit was a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat newspaper continuously from 1945 until his departure in 1970 to join former governor Orval Faubus’s failed political comeback. He then founded the State News Bureau, an operation from which he sold news stories from and about the Arkansas State Capitol to small community newspapers around the state. When he died in 1985 after a long battle with cancer, a group of people, including Secretary of State W. J. “Bill” McCuen and widow Mary Lou Douthit, hung a photo inside the Capitol press room of Douthit; a small brass plaque identifies him as the “Dean of the Capitol press corps.” George Douthit was born to James David Douthit and Obelia Douthit …

Duvall, Leland Blaine

Leland Blaine Duvall was a writer and editor who wrote columns, editorials, and historical articles for the Arkansas Gazette for forty years after World War II. Self-educated and reared on a hardscrabble Ozark Mountain farm, Duvall was an itinerant farm laborer until World War II. His voluminous correspondence from training camps and the war front with family members, friends, and his future wife impelled him to college and a writing career. His commentary on agriculture and economics for the Arkansas Gazette attracted a wide following and won numerous awards. Leland Duvall was born on June 19, 1911, the eldest of four sons of Omer Duvall and Esther Singleton Duvall. His father was a sharecropper, but he acquired forty acres in …

Gardner, Virginia

Virginia Gardner was a journalist and left-wing activist. At one time a member of the Communist Party, she was also the author of a well-received biography of Louise Bryant, the wife of Russian Revolution chronicler John Reed. Although born in Oklahoma, Gardner spent most of her youth in Arkansas. Virginia Gardner was born on June 27, 1904, in Sallisaw, Indian Territory (now Oklahoma). She was the youngest of three daughters born to Gertrude Boltswood Gardner and John Gardner, who was a banker. The family moved to Fort Smith (Sebastian County) when she was two. That same year, her father contracted tuberculosis. He was taken to Colorado for treatment, and he sometimes returned there in the summers. Gardner’s mother died when …

Henry, Orville Monroe, Jr.

Orville Monroe Henry Jr., the best-known newspaper sportswriter in Arkansas history, worked for the state’s two largest newspapers, the Arkansas Gazette and the Arkansas Democrat (later the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette). Although he covered other sports, he is most identified with writing about Arkansas Razorbacks football at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). Orville Henry was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on February 19, 1925. His father, Orville Monroe Henry Sr., was a traveling salesman who later became a farmer; his mother, Frances, raised eight children and took care of a very active home. When Henry was in the ninth grade at Pulaski Heights Junior High, he decided he wanted to be a newspaperman and worked on the …

Hughes, David Terry

David Terry Hughes Sr. was a longtime journalist, photographer, and newspaperman from Benton (Saline County). Hughes’s newspaper career began with freelance photography for the Benton Courier at age fourteen. In addition to newspapers in Arkansas, Hughes worked for papers in Texas, Virginia, Florida, Illinois, Saipan, and Guam. He was the grandson of noted Arkansas poet and columnist Anna Nash Yarbrough. David Terry Hughes was born on February 8, 1948, in the Panama Canal Zone to Frank Hughes and Jessie Shaver Hughes. His father served in the U.S. Army; when he was stationed in Panama in 1949, he was killed while crossing the street when Hughes was only a year old. Hughes’s mother remarried but soon separated. His three half brothers …

King, Bertha Hale

aka: Bertha Hale White
Bertha Hale King was a socialist activist in the first part of the twentieth century. Although born in Illinois, she received most of her early education in Arkansas before leaving the state to serve as a high-ranking official in the national Socialist Party. Bertha Hale was born in Nashville, Illinois, in 1878. Her father was a farmer, but little else is known about her parents. She attended primary school in Golden City, Missouri, just over the state line from Illinois. The family then moved to Arkansas. Following graduation from high school in Fort Smith (Sebastian County), she attended Buckner College, a small Baptist school just a few miles north of Huntington (Sebastian County). In preparation for a teaching career, she …

Lemke, Walter John

Walter John Lemke established the department of journalism at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County) in 1928 and served as the head of the department until his retirement in 1959. The university named the department the Walter J. Lemke Department of Journalism in his honor in 1988. In addition, he founded several historical and journalistic organizations. Walter Lemke was born on January 6, 1891, in Wausau, Wisconsin, to Carl Lemke and Ulrika Block Lemke. Lemke attended the University of Wisconsin and the University of Indiana. He received his AB degree from Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio, which is near Cleveland, in 1911. The college later awarded him an honorary doctor of letters degree in 1962. He earned …

Lyons, Eugene Aloysius (Gene)

Eugene Aloysius (Gene) Lyons is an award-winning author, columnist, and political commentator who lives in Arkansas and wrote a nationally syndicated column for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, among other publications. He is author of several books and co-author of The Hunting of the President: The Ten-Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton (2000), which was made into a documentary film in 2004. Gene Lyons was born on September 20, 1943, in Elizabeth, New Jersey, to Eugene Aloysius Lyons Jr., an insurance clerk, and Helen Sheedy Lyons, a typist. For a time, Lyons’s father also ran a Dairy Queen. Lyons attended Chatham High School in New Jersey and graduated from Rutgers University, also in New Jersey, in 1965 with a degree …

Mathis, Deborah Myers

Deborah Mathis is an acclaimed journalist and author who has been a reporter and columnist for newspapers and a television reporter and anchor. She was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame in 2003. Deborah Myers was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on August 24, 1953. Her father, Lloyd H. Myers, was a businessman and Baptist minister, while her mother, Rachel A. Helms Myers, was an educator. She has several brothers and sisters. Myers attended Gibbs Elementary, Rightsell Elementary, and Westside Junior High, graduating from Little Rock Central High in 1971. She got her start in journalism at the Central school newspaper as the first female and first African-American editor. Rather than leave home to go to college, …

Morgan, Tom Perkins

Tom Perkins Morgan’s gravestone in the Rogers Cemetery says simply, “Writer, Humorist, Philosopher.” To many in Rogers (Benton County), he was best known as a successful local businessman who operated a newsstand and bookstore downtown. But Morgan was a nationally known writer whose work appeared in major publications such as Life and the Saturday Evening Post. Tom P. Morgan was born on December 1, 1864, in East Lyme, Connecticut, to Joseph P. Morgan and Mary A. Perkins Morgan. He moved with his parents and his only sibling, Harry, to Garnett, Kansas, when he was ten. He grew up there, spending much of his spare time in the local newspaper office. In his youth, Morgan was something of an adventurer. He …

Noland, Fent

aka: Charles Fenton Mercer (Fent) Noland
One of Arkansas’s most famous citizens during the antebellum period was Charles Fenton Mercer (Fent) Noland, a Batesville (Independence County) lawyer. He became a national figure as one of the leading “Southwestern humorists” with the regular publication of his letters in the New York Spirit of the Times, the leading national sports and humor newspaper. Noland was Arkansas’s representative in the literary movement named for the “old Southwest” (Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Arkansas), which delighted the nation with an array of bucolic frontier/agrarian writings. Fent Noland was named for Charles Fenton Mercer, the family friend who founded Aldie, Virginia, where he was born on August 23, 1810, the fourth of the five children of William and Catherine (Callender) Noland. His father …

Pfeiffer, Pauline

Pauline Pfeiffer was a successful journalist who wrote for such magazines as Vanity Fair and Vogue. From 1927 to 1940, she was married to author Ernest Hemingway, being the second of his four wives. At her family’s home in Piggott (Clay County), Hemingway wrote some of the works that would contribute to a 1954 Nobel Laureate in Literature for his contribution to writing. Hemingway credited her as being the best editor with whom he ever worked. Pauline Marie Pfeiffer was born in Parkersburg, Iowa, on July 22, 1895, to Mary Downey Pfeiffer and wealthy businessman Paul Pfeiffer. She had a younger sister, Virginia Ruth (called “Jinny”), and brother, Paul Mark. When she was six years old, the family moved to …

Quesenbury, William Minor “Cush”

William Minor “Cush” Quesenbury (the nickname reflecting how the last name should be pronounced) is known for his achievements as a journalist whose essays appeared in national publications; the founder and editor of the South-West Independent at Fayetteville (Washington County), one of the most quoted newspapers in the 1850s; a painter whose sketchbooks cover his trip to and from California during the gold rush; a poet, whose long poem on Arkansas encapsulated the state’s history and people; and a soldier who fought in both the Mexican War and the Civil War. Historians familiar with his accomplishments rank him as one of the most prolific and creative individuals Arkansas ever produced. Bill Quesenbury was born on August 21, 1822, in newly …

Read, Lessie Stringfellow

Lessie Stringfellow Read was an early champion of women’s rights, a writer for six national periodicals of her day, a correspondent for two large newspapers, and a newspaper editor herself. She was a founder of the Women’s Suffrage Association of Washington County and was an officer for the local Red Cross during World War I. In addition, she served many years as national press chairperson for the largest women’s organization of the early twentieth century, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. Lessie Read was born Mabel Staples on January 3, 1891, in Temple, Texas, to William and Lillian Staples. Both her parents died from a fever when she was two years old, and the renowned horticulturist Henry Martyn Stringfellow and …

Reed, Roy

Roy Reed, author of an incisive biography of Governor Orval Faubus, was a renowned writer and reporter for the Arkansas Gazette and The New York Times. He taught journalism for sixteen years at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). As a teacher, he stressed not only the importance of telling stories accurately but of telling them well, with careful attention to language. Roy Reed was born on February 14, 1930, in Hot Springs (Garland County) to Roy E. Reed, a mail carrier and later a storeowner, and Ella Meredith Reed, a homemaker. His younger sister, Hattie, died in 1964. Reed grew up in Piney, an unincorporated Garland County community near Hot Springs. Piney was racially mixed, and …

Rowland, Hardy Alton “Spider”

Hardy Alton “Spider” Rowland was a flamboyant newspaperman whose political columns in the Arkansas Gazette in the 1940s attracted a huge following and were widely quoted around the country. Rowland was a hard-drinking, wisecracking, brawling man-about-town whose cigar and black fedora cocked on the back of his head made him familiar on the sidewalks and in bars. Southern Politics, the 1949 classic political science anthology about politics in Southern states, invoked Rowland’s metaphors to illustrate the peculiar nature of Arkansas elections. Spider Rowland was born on July 14, 1907, in a log cabin near Hardy (Sharp County), the son of Fountain Edgar Rowland and Mary Rowland. He was the second-oldest of five children. When he was a boy, the family …

Saunders, Michael Earl (Mike)

aka: "Metal Mike"
Little Rock (Pulaski County) native Michael Earl Saunders is the lead singer and guitarist of the Angry Samoans, a California-based band that formed in 1978 out of the first wave of American punk music. Saunders, a music journalist in earlier years, was also the first to use the term “heavy metal” to describe the musical genre. Mike Saunders (a.k.a. Metal Mike) was born on May 1, 1952, to Earl L. Saunders Jr., who was an architectural photographer, and Jean Cox Saunders, who was an office manager for Burns Security in Little Rock. He has one younger sibling. Saunders attended Hall High School in Little Rock, where he played trombone in the marching band. His first album review was published in …

Shannon, Henry Karr

Dubbed “the sage of Lunenburg,” Henry Karr Shannon wrote a daily column, “Run of the News,” in the Arkansas Democrat from 1944 until 1971. Covering everything from politics to popular culture, “he developed the largest following of any columnist in Arkansas,” according to a 1973 comment by Robert S. McCord, then associate editor of the Democrat. Born on March 1, 1902, at Lunenburg (Izard County), Karr Shannon was the only child of farmers Robert Nathan and Allie Maud (Estes) Shannon. A bout with scarlet fever and measles at age three left Shannon with only thirty percent of normal hearing. When he was five, his mother died of tuberculosis, and his father moved to New Mexico, where he, too, died of …

Smith, Alfred Edgar

Alfred Edgar Smith was active in the battle for equal rights for African Americans as an author, government worker, educator, journalist, and club leader. Alfred Smith was born in Hot Springs (Garland County) on December 2, 1903. His parents were Jesse Rufus Smith, born a slave in Roanoke, Virginia, and Mamie Johnson Smith. Both worked at the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs. Later, the couple began to work at the Crystal Bathhouse, a spa for African Americans. Jesse became manager and Mamie the bookkeeper. Smith worked his way through Langston High School as a night bellhop for the Eastman and Arlington Hotels and as an exercise boy at Oaklawn Park Racetrack (now Oaklawn Racing Casino Resort). He was a member …

Street, James Howell

James Howell Street was a newspaperman and novelist who worked at the Arkansas Gazette in the 1920s and later wrote essays celebrating the state and the newspaper. James Street was born on October 15, 1903, in Lumberton, Mississippi, to John Camillus Street and William Thompson Scott Street (her actual name). Although his family was Catholic, he converted and became a Baptist minister after marrying Lucy Nash O’Briant, the daughter of a Baptist preacher, in 1923. After three children were born, he gave up preaching and became a newspaper reporter, first at the Pensacola Journal in Florida and then in 1926 at the Arkansas Gazette in Little Rock (Pulaski County). He was twenty-three when he went to work for the Gazette …

Sutton, Ozell

One of the most important Arkansas political activists at the height of the civil rights struggle during the 1950s and 1960s, Ozell Sutton was a key player at many of the movement’s most critical moments—both in the state and throughout the South. He was present at such watershed events as the 1957 Central High School desegregation crisis and the 1965 march at Selma, Alabama. In April 1968, Sutton was with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. when King was murdered on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee. He was also a trailblazer in Arkansas race relations, becoming the first black newspaper reporter to work for a white-owned newspaper when he went to work in 1950 as a staff …

Thomas, Ruth Harris

Ruth Harris Thomas was a highly regarded amateur ornithologist whose column on birding in Arkansas was published by the Arkansas Gazette for about forty years. Her column not only documented area birds, but it also contributed to a growing appreciation for birds, birding, and habitat conservation. Ruth Harris was born in Kentucky on August 25, 1900, to Charles O. Harris and Columbia B. Cox Harris. She had two brothers. Majoring in English and journalism, Harris graduated from Louisiana State University in 1923, where she also edited the student newspaper. She moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) in the autumn of 1923 to work as a reporter for the Arkansas Gazette newspaper. In 1927, she married Maine native Stanley Powers Rowland …

Trimble, Vance

Vance Henry Trimble is a prolific award-winning journalist, biographer, and newspaperman from Harrison (Boone County). In 1960, Trimble won the Pulitzer Prize for national coverage, the Sigma Delta Chi Award for distinguished Washington coverage, and the Raymond Clapper Award for that year’s best reporting. Vance Trimble was born in Harrison on July 6, 1913. His father, Guy L. Trimble, was a lawyer, and his mother, Josie Trimble, was a poet and writer. By 1920, anti-union violence and mob rule, culminating in what has been called the Harrison Railroad Riot, forced Guy Trimble to resign as mayor and move his family to Okemah, Oklahoma, where Vance Trimble grew up. Trimble’s mother directed plays at Okemah’s Crystal Theater, and when Trimble was …

Whitworth, William Alvin

William Alvin Whitworth began his newspaper career in Little Rock (Pulaski County) when he was a high school student. He has come to be recognized as one of the nation’s most reputable journalists, having been a writer and associate editor of the New Yorker and editor-in-chief of the Atlantic Monthly. Bill Whitworth was born on February 13, 1937, in Hot Springs (Garland County). He attended Central High School in Little Rock, where he also spent time working as an advertising department copy boy for the Arkansas Democrat. He attended the University of Oklahoma (OU) at Norman. During summers and a year he took off from school, Whitworth continued to work at the Democrat with editor Roberta Martin and photographer Will …

Winslow, Thyra Samter

Thyra Samter Winslow wrote more than 200 stories published between 1915 and 1955 in the heyday of American popular magazines. Her early life in Fort Smith (Sebastian County) provided background for her view of small towns as prejudiced, hypocritical, and suffocating places. She was a principal contributor to Smart Set, with stories in every issue from December 1914 to 1923. Some of her work was collected in books such as My Own, My Native Land (1935), People Round the Corner (1927), Picture Frames (1923, reprinted as Window Panes in 1945), and The Sex without Sentiment (1954). Published accounts of Winslow’s life are often contradictory. The authoritative work is a doctoral dissertation by Richard C. Winegard, who established Winslow’s biography from …