CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Decades of outstanding service as editor at their West Virginia newspapers has earned two journalists inclusion in the West Virginia Press Association Hall of Fame, class of 2017.
The two will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during a ceremony on Aug. 3 as part of the WVPA’s 2017 Convention, Aug.3-5, at Canaan Valley Resort. The induction ceremony will take place as part of the WVPA President’s Reception, honoring current WVPA president Jim McGoldrick.
Robert Stanley Earle, 1918-2008:
Robert Stanley Earle was born Nov.13, 1918 in Clarksburg, W.Va. He was a 1936 graduate of Washington Irving High School and a 1940 graduate of West Virginia University. During his college years, Earle was a member of the first graduating class of the P.I. Reed School of Journalism and was elected editor of the Daily Athenaeum. He was working for the Grafton Sentinel when Pearl Harbor was bombed. The action prompted him to enlist in the U.S. Army, where he was a cryptographer in the Signal Corps, U.S. Intelligence, obtaining the rank of captain at wars end.
In 1942, Earle married the late Nancy Thrasher of Clarksburg, who preceded him in death in 1985. Together, the couple had two daughters, Rosalie and Nancy. In 1946, he went to work as a reporter for The Weston Democrat and three years later he and the late George Davisson bought the weekly newspaper together. Earle served as publisher and editor of The Weston Democrat for more than 40 years. Earle maintained strong ties to his community, serving for 30 years on the board of directors of the Stonewall Jackson Hospital. For several years, Earle sat on the board of the Stonewall Jackson Jubilee, a festival that celebrates West Virginia’s rich Appalachian heritage. He was also a member of the WV Press Association.
Earle enjoyed golf, skiing and traveling, especially to his favorite destination: England. He was both a loyal Christian and a faithful fan of the West Virginia Mountaineers. Earle was an active member of the local St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, where he served several terms on the vestry. Earle’s daughter Rosalie inherited Earle’s journalism legacy, retiring from The Charleston Gazette after a career in journalism.
Dave Owen, 1928-2002:
Dave Owen served as the editor of The Parkersburg Sentinel for nearly 30 years. After retiring on July 1, 2001, Owen held the title of editor emeritus and continued to write occasional columns for the afternoon newspaper until his death.
Owen grew up in Minnesota and graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1951. After college, Owen joined the Navy where he served aboard the U.S.S. Kearsarge, an aircraft-carrying assault ship, during the Korean War. Upon his discharge from the Navy in 1953, Owen took his first newspaper job as a police reporter with The Austin Daily Herald, and later became city editor of the paper. In 1964, Owen moved to Huron, S.D., to fill the position of managing editor of The Daily Plainsman, and later moved to The Messenger and Inquirer in Owensboro, Ky., in 1968, where he also served as managing editor.
Prior to joining The Sentinel as editor in 1972, Owen had a decade of experience in various newspaper industry positions. However, it was with The Sentinel that Owen fully fell into his place as a newspaperman. What he initially regarded as a temporary position quickly became a beloved vocation that he dedicated himself to for nearly 30 years.
Amongst the multitude of organizations he served, including the Henry Logan Children’s Home and the Mid-Ohio Valley Chamber of Commerce, Owen was a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and the American Association of Newspaper Editors. He received West Virginia Press Association’s First Place Best Columnist in 1991, First Place Best Editorial in 1996 and 1998, and Best Special Edition in 2000. As beginning reporters at the Austin Daily Herald in 1995, Owen and his wife Frieda won a national Associated Press Spot News Award for their joint coverage of a bus crash.
Owen was known for his caring nature and passion for tradition, contributing to his nickname of the “gentle giant of journalism.” He dedicated much time to children, participating in regular reading sessions with students at Jefferson Elementary Center. He was a longtime member of the Salvation Army’s board of advisers, and was often spotted ringing a bell outside of local department stores during the holiday season. His column describing his family’s yearly hunt for the perfect Christmas tree was a favorite of Sentinel readers.
Owen’s goal was to work until the new millennium – and that he did. Upon his retirement in 2001, Owen told a reporter, “I’ve got my health at 73 and I’d like to take life easy for the few years I have left.” On his 20th anniversary as editor of The Parkersburg Sentinel, Owen looked back on his columns, which he described to be “about ordinary people, significant issues and trivial nonsense.” Owen’s wife, Frieda, compiled the columns into a book that she titled, “by Dave Owen.” The book was printed and distributed to Owen’s family, friends and colleagues after his death in 2002.
For more information on the Hall of Fame, Convention 2015 or the WVPA, contact executive director Don Smith at 304-342-1011, ext. 160, or [email protected]