Dow L. Richardson · 1979

By Chris Moenich

Dow Leas Richardson was born on June 28, 1905, in Van Buren, Indiana, the first son of George and Jessie Richardson. A brother, George, was born in 1912. There were no other children. George Richardson, Jr., is a practicing physician in Marion, Indiana.

Dow Richardson spent the first 19 years of his life in Van Buren; his father employed as a physician and his mother staying home to take care of the children and house. He attended Grace School, in Van Buren, for his elementary education and is a 1923 graduate of Van Buren High School. While in high school, he was an editor for the school’s paper, “The Emblem,” and he also wrote a column concerning school activities for the town’s weekly newspaper, The Van Buren News. His second interest was music and he played trombone in his high school band.

Upon high school graduation, Richardson attended Indiana University in Bloomington, receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 1928. In college, his interests in journalism and music continued. In addition to writing pieces for the University’s literary magazine, The Vagabond, Richardson spent a portion of his college career working on the staff of The Indiana Daily Student.

During his senior year, 1927-28, he served as assistant editor. When school was not in session, he spent his vacations working as a reporter at both the Marion Leader-Tribune and the Logansport Press, in Indiana.

Similar to high school, he played trombone in the university band.

Richardson started his professional career as a journalist on The Kokomo Tribune in Howard County, Indiana, immediately following his college graduation. J.A. Kautz, who was owner and publisher of the newspaper from 1887-1938, had written Indiana University asking that they recommend one of their journalism students to join the Tribune’s staff. Richardson was asked and he came, finding the size of the city to his liking.

Richardson spent the next approximately two years as a reporter, covering Howard County offices and the county courthouse. He wrote the column “Up and Down Main Street.” In 1930, he decided to further his academic studies and enrolled in Columbia University in New York. He pursued a program in journalism and wrote a column about Indiana people in New York City for several Indiana newspapers. Also, as part of his studies, he wrote articles on prominent people to include novelist Theodore Dreiser and philosopher John Dewey.

After completing one semester at the university, Richardson returned to The Kokomo Tribune due to economic hardships imposed by the depression. He covered general news assignments and Howard County offices until he was appointed managing editor of the newspaper in 1946. One year later, on August 2, 1947, he was named editor. He retired from that position in 1970. That same year, at age 65, he was asked to become editor of the editorial pages. He accepted the position and as of 1981 he remained active in that role.

The Kokomo Tribune honored Richardson in August 1978 for his 50 years of service, in which nearly half were spent as editor. Additionally, according to a September 1978 edition of the in-house publication “The Tribling,” he was credited with being among the very few to achieve such distinction at the Tribune. Dow succeeded Edward Souder, who was editor from 1897 to 1947. Arthur Rayburn was business manager from 1899 to 1950 and Krautz was owner and publisher for 51 years. As of 1981, Richardson held the record as he had been employed at the Tribune for 53 years.

Memberships in newspaper-related organizations over the past 53 years include the American Society of Newspaper Editors, Hoosier State Press Association, Sigma Delta Chi, the Indianapolis Press Club, and the Indiana Republican Editorial Association. Awards include being named “Indiana Newspaperman of the Year” in 1962 by the Indianapolis Press Club and recipient of the Indiana State Bar Association’s Liberty Bell Award in 1970. He was inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame in 1979.

Almost equaling the number of years employed at The Kokomo Tribune is the number of years he has been married to Hilda Babb. The couple, who have been married since 1933, have one child, Mary. She also attended Indiana University and is now married to Charles N. Thulin. They reside in Boulder, Colorado, and have four children: Jill, Jeff, Ted, and Tom.

In addition to his career and family life, Richardson has been a member of several Kokomo-based organizations and has written light verse and humorous articles for publication.

Local memberships include those in the Kokomo Rotary Club, the Kokomo Chamber of Commerce, and the Grace United Methodist Church. As of 1981, he remained active in several of these organizations.

Richardson’s free-lance articles have been published in the Wall Street Journal, Household Magazine, The Christian Science Monitor, The Saturday Evening Post, The New York Times, and The Chicago Tribune. A collection of his light verse, which he has referred to as “doggerel,” was printed in booklets and given to his grandchildren.

Reflecting upon his life in Kokomo, Richardson was quoted in a Fall 1979 publication of the Kokomo Chamber of Commerce as saying that Kokomo “has so many advantages over a city like New York or Chicago. For example, at one time I considered going to work for Time magazine. A friend advised me against it. He said, ‘You’ll be in a rat race where the fellow under you will be gunning for your job everyday’ – and it’s true, that’s the way it works in big cities.”

Journalistic Contributions:
Dow Leas Richardson has devoted his life to journalism, working at The Kokomo Tribune for the past 53 years, as of 1981, winning awards, joining organizations, and writing various pieces for national publications.

Born in 1905 in Van Buren, Indiana, Richardson got his start in the profession
during high school as an editor of the Van Buren High School yearbook, a reporter and editor of the school’s newspaper, and as a school activities columnist for the Van Buren News. While attending Indiana University he wrote pieces for the school’s literary magazine, The Vagabond, and worked on the staff of The Indiana Daily Student. During his summer vacations he was employed at the Marion Leader-Tribune and at the Logansport Press.

Richardson began his professional career at The Kokomo Tribune in 1928 immediately after receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Indiana University. His responsibilities included covering Howard County offices and the county courthouse in addition to writing the column “Up and Down Main Street.”

His career at the Tribune has had one short interruption. In 1930 he enrolled in Columbia University in New York with the intention of earning an advanced degree in journalism. Though he was able to further his career by interviewing such prominent people as Theodore Dreiser and writing a column for publication in several Indiana newspapers, Richard was forced to leave school after one semester due to economic hardships incurred by the depression.
Richardson returned to his former job at the Tribune. From 1930 to the present, his career has been marked by promotions at the Tribune, and awards he has won for his dedication to the profession.
For approximately 16 years following his work at Columbia University, Richardson worked as a reporter, covering county offices and general news assignments. In 1946 he was appointed managing editor. One year later, on August 2, 1947, he was named editor. He retired from that post in 1970 and was asked to be editor of the editorial pages. He readily accepted the position and remains active at it, as of 1981.

Three of his most coveted awards are his recognition in 1962 as “Newspaperman of the Year” by the Indianapolis Press Club, his winning the Indiana State Bar Association’s Liberty Bell Award in 1970, and his induction into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame in 1979.

The former award he achieved through his part in lifting a secrecy lid on a congressional recount in a disputed Fifth District election. The congressional committee scheduled to conduct the recount announced that it would work behind closed doors. The Tribune, under Richardson’s leadership, challenged the action of the group, saying that the public had a right to know the manner in which the ballots would be tabulated and the committee rescinded its ban.

It was his same belief in the people’s right to know that won him the Liberty Bell Award. He was honored for his editorials which contributed to greater public respect for the law. The Tribune also published in 1970 a supplement, “The Law and You,” which was distributed to 4,000 pupils in 20 high schools.

The Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame is an association composed of representatives of the four Indiana chapters of the Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi, of which Richardson is a member. He was recognized for his outstanding contributions to journalism by his 1979 induction into the Hall of Fame, becoming one of 76 to receive the honor since its 1966 founding.

Richardson was named to the board of directors of the American Society of Newspaper Editors in 1950 and was selected president of the Indiana Associated Press Managing Editors Association in 1961. He is a member of the Hoosier State Press Association and is a past president of the Indiana Republican Editorial Association.

In addition to his career at the Tribune, Richardson has devoted a portion of his spare time to writing humorous articles and light verse, which have appeared in publications to include The Wall Street Journal, the Saturday Evening Post, the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Chicago Sun-Times, Household Magazine, and the Christian Science Monitor.

In retrospect of his 53 years of professional journalism, Richardson said in January 1981 that his most memorable work has been his efforts “of trying to influence the community towards good, sound government and enforcing a good community life, away from bad influence.”

Other Contributions:
Dow Leas Richardson’s contributions outside of his career on The Kokomo Tribune have centered upon the city of Kokomo, where he has resided for the past 53 years.

Richardson came to Kokomo in 1928 after receiving his Bachelor’s of Arts degree in English from Indiana University-Bloomington. He had won employment as a reporter on The Kokomo Tribune, which had been published since 1850.

Richardson was no stranger to this area of Indiana, as he had spent the first 19 years of his life in the town of Van Buren, which is in a county neighboring Kokomo of Howard County.

Over the past half century in Kokomo, Richardson has been a trustee of the Grace Methodist Church, president of the Kokomo Rotary Club, member of the Kokomo Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, and member of the board of directors for the First Federal Savings and Loan Association of Kokomo. As of 1981, he remained active in these organizations and has also been an active member of the St. Joseph Memorial Advisory Board since 1971.

Activities on Howard County boards have been the past positions of member of the boards of directors for the Family Service Association, the Youth Service Bureau, and the Comprehensive Health Planning Council.

He is a member of the Indiana University-Bloomington Alumni Association and served as president of the organization in 1959.

State-wise, he was a member of the Indiana Traffic Safety Advisory Commission from 1965 to 1970. He was among 11 people on the board appointed by both former Indiana Governors Roger D. Branigan and Edgar Whitcomb.


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