MARYVILLE, Mo. — James “Jim” Randolph Fall, Jr. — father, husband, grandfather, friend, newspaperman, sports fan, fisherman, golfer — the former mayor of Maryville who served as the executive editor of the Maryville Daily Forum and who was a lifelong advocate for community journalism, died Tuesday at Mosaic Hospital in St. Joseph. He was 79.
The cause of death was a severe stroke. Jim was attended at the time of death by his children, Tim Fall of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Susie Fagan of Prairie Village, Kansas; Sarah Tempel of Ft. Worth, Texas; and by Lynn Felton of Maryville.
Jim was preceded in death by his wife of 47 years, Janis Elaine Melvin Fall.
Besides his children, Jim is survived by seven beloved grandchildren: Jackson, Alice, and Margaret Fall of Oklahoma City; Conrad and Riley Jane Fagan of Prairie Village; and Peyton and Kate Tempel of Fort Worth. His sons-in-law Robert Fagan of Prairie Village and Forrest “Frosty” Tempel of Ft. Worth, were nothing less than sons to him as well.
Born December 4, 1936 in Memphis, Tennessee to Dr. James R. and Mildred Elizabeth Frazier Fall, Jim attended Presbyterian Day School in Memphis, and Castle Heights Military Academy, Lebanon, Tennessee, where he was editor of their national award-winning high school newspaper, The Cavalier.
In high school Jim developed a love for veterinary medicine, but it was the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism that offered him a place in 1955. At Mizzou Jim joined the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity and served as president in his senior year.
Married in Rock Port in 1959, Jim and Jan moved to Carbondale, Illinois where Jim reported for The Southern Illinoisan. After being drafted, he was stationed at Ft. Bragg, North Carolina, during the final months of the Korean Conflict and extending into the early years of the American military presence in Vietnam, working as a journalist in the Army’s Special Warfare Center.
Upon being discharged, Jim and Jan returned to northwest Missouri where Jim managed a Texaco service station in Fairfax. In 1966 Jim became managing editor of the West Memphis Evening Times. Jim frequently recalled how he reported on the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. and the ensuing Memphis riots.
From 1972-1975 Jim worked as executive director of the International Association of Holiday Inns.
In 1975 Jim and Jan purchased the Albany (Missouri) Ledger, which was awarded three General Excellence awards by the Missouri Press Association between 1975 and 1982, with Jim as publisher, editor, reporter, photographer and layout artist. During that time the Falls also published The Stanberry Headlight.
The Falls sold the Ledger and Jim assumed the editorship of the El Dorado (Arkansas) News Times in 1982. Jim was promoted to general manager of the newspaper, serving until 1988.
In 1989 Jim returned once again to Missouri, this time as publisher of The Daily Forum and later as co- founder of the Maryville Free Press, where from 1992-1995 he was the first to write stories about a conceptual new municipal project that envisioned a golf course and recreational area that later would be named Mozingo Lake Recreation Park.
Relocating to Helena, Montana, Jim became the executive director of the Montana Newspaper Association, where he served from 1995 until his retirement in 2004.
Following Jan’s unexpected death in 2006, Jim decided to return “once and for all” to his beloved Maryville. He taught editing in the journalism department at Northwest Missouri State University in 2007 and returned to writing for the Forum as a columnist from 2008-2012.
Jim was elected to the Maryville city council in 2011, and in 2013 he was selected from among the council to serve as mayor.
He retired from municipal service in 2014, joining the management of the newly-relaunched Daily Forum as executive editor. Jim thrived on rebuilding the newspaper and on the professional and personal relationships that grew out of his service as a journalist.
Jim received numerous accolades for professional and community service, including serving as president of the El Dorado Chamber of Commerce, of the Northwest Missouri Press Association, and of Newspaper Association Managers, Inc.
Jim was a Rotarian, serving as club president on multiple occasions and being recognized as a Paul Harris Fellow. In Maryville, he was also active in the Men’s Forum.
Jim was a life-long Episcopalian.
Jim’s life was filled not necessarily with religion but always goodness; not necessarily with correctness but always truth; and he stood not necessarily with popular choices but always on the side of right.
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, Aug. 13 at 4 p.m. at First United Methodist Church of Maryville, 102 N. Main St. Following the service, family will receive friends at a reception to be held at the Mozingo Golf Course club house, 25055 Liberty Rd., Maryville.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be directed to the Jim Fall Memorial Fund, c/o Citizens Bank and Trust, 105 N. Main St., Maryville, Missouri 64468.