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Colley, Flynn elected to WVPA Hall of Fame

CHARLESTON, W.Va. —  Journalists who served at opposite ends of the state will enter the West Virginia Press Association Hall of Fame together as the class of 2015. WVPA Logo
Thomas Colley (1941-2009), who worked at the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, and Thomas Flynn (1892-1983), who worked at the The Intelligencer of Wheeling, have been elected to the West Virginia Press Association Hall of Fame as the class of 2015.
The two will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during a ceremony on Aug. 13 as part of the WVPA’s 2015 Convention, Aug.13-15, in Charleston, W.Va.  The induction will take place as part of the WVPA President’s Reception at the West Virginia Culture Center and State Museum at the State Capitol Complex.
The WVPA membership elected Colley and Flynn from a slate of four nominees. The other two outstanding journalists on the 2015 ballot were John C. Ailes, 1913-1991, who served as the editor and publisher of The Hampshire Review from 1953 until his death, and Shelby Young, 1946-2009, a veteran newspaperman who worked for seven newspapers in West Virginia. Both Ailes and Young remain eligible for induction in the future.
The WVPA’s Hall of Fame Committee selected the four from a group of 40 nominees now eligible of the Hall of Fame. In order to be nominated and elected to the Hall of Fame, a person had to have an “outstanding” career with a West Virginia newspaper, weekly or daily, or be a native West Virginian who had an outstanding journalism career outside West Virginia. The nominee must be deceased for at least five years before the committee considers him/her for the Hall of Fame. The publisher of each member newspaper in the state is eligible to vote for the nominees.

Thomas A. “Tom” Colley – (1941-2009):

Colley was born in Garden, Va., on May 18, 1941. He attended Buchanan County public schools and graduated from Garden High School in 1959. After graduating from high school, Colley joined the U.S. Air Force and advanced to the rank of airman first class before he received his honorable discharge in 1964.

Colley attended San Antonio Junior College and the University of Maryland, where he majored in English. He began his career in newspapers with the Auburn Evening Star in Auburn, Ind., in the late 1960s, and returned home to work at the Sunset News-Observer in Bluefield and the Tazewell Free Press in Richlands, Va. He accepted a job as copy editor with the Bluefield Daily Telegraph in 1974, and soon advanced to the position of managing editor.

He left Bluefield in 1979 for an editor’s position with the News & Courier in Charleston, S.C., and remained in that position until 1985 when he returned to Bluefield to serve as executive editor of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, a job he had dreamed of holding since his youth. He was serving in that position at the time of his death.

During his tenure as executive editor, Colley was instrumental in the success of several community service initiatives. He served as chairman of the Community Christmas Tree, a program that worked to ensure a joyous Christmas for thousands of needy children across the region for more than 24 years. He helped bring weekly entertainment to downtown Bluefield for more than 20 years as part of the Chicory Square Concert Series. He also chaired the Literacy Committee of the Greater Bluefield Chamber of Commerce, who spawned the highly successful “Reading Bee,” a reading program for area children.

During his journalism career, Colley received numerous awards of excellence from the West Virginia Press Association for his columns and editorials. He received the Press Association’s Adam R. Kelly Premier Journalist Award on Aug. 6, 2005, and received the “Distinguished Citizen Award” from Bluefield’s Riley Vest Post No. 9, of the American Legion on Nov. 11, 2003. Gov. Joe Manchin presented him the “Distinguished West Virginian Award” on Dec. 12, 2007.

At the time of his death, Colley was serving as chairman of the Center for International Understanding’s board of directors. He was involved in several local projects such as the King Coal Highway, the Coalfields Expressway, the Shawnee Parkway, the Bluestone Regional Business and Technology Park and the multi-purpose equestrian park. He was committed to seeing the projects move forward, and demanded the support of elected officials in Washington, Charleston and Richmond. He was a firm believer in holding elected officials to their promises, and was a steadfast supporter of efforts to resurrect and revitalize downtown Bluefield.

Thomas Flynn – (1892-1983):

For many years Flynn was editor of The Intelligencer and author of its editorials. After relinquishing the post as editor in 1970, he held the title of editorial page editor and continued to write editorials.

“It may be that no one has served his community and state through journalism as long as did the late Thomas O’Brien Flynn, whose newspaper career spanned 70 years,” said Mike Myer, editor of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register. “It certainly is true that Flynn rendered enormous service to his native city of Wheeling, the state of West Virginia and the profession of print journalism.

Flynn spent nearly half a century with The intelligencer, Wheeling News-Register and newspapers in the group founded by the late H.C. Ogden. As editor of the Intelligencer, he became the state’s leading spokesman for the Republican Party and an advocate of local responsibility in government. He started work as a reporter on the old Wheeling Telegraph in 1911 and continued writing a weekly column, “personal Viewpoint,” until late 1981.

“Those who knew and worked with Flynn remembered him as, in one observation published in his obituary, ‘a demanding editor, an outstanding editorial writer and a respected columnist.’ He also was a true gentlemen who cared deeply for others,” Myer said.

Flynn was a conservative, believing in personal responsibility, less government and limited taxation. Still, he supported an adequate, modern, well-financed public school system and backed adequate teachers’ salaries, and local school bond improvement issues.

He covered a number of sessions of the state and national legislature for the Ogden newspapers. He covered the 1936 Republican National Convention in Cleveland and, during a time when mixing politics and journalism wasn’t seen as the conflict it is today, served as a delegate-at-large to the 1940 Republican National Convention in Philadelphia.

Publisher Adam Kelly, whose work serves as the current standard of journalistic excellence in West Virginia, said this about Flynn: “Flynn’s editorials, columns and opinion pieces established standards for West Virginia journalism over 60 years. … The thousands of editorials and columns which Flynn produced from 1911 to 1981 bear eloquent witness to one fact; he could write. … He was 91 years old when he died, this towering giant of West Virginia journalism. A good editor, a good columnist, a good writer, a good man. The world, in particular our little corner of it, is a better place because of the life and work of Thomas 0’Brien Flynn.”

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]

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