Former SPJ President Robert M. White II died Nov. 19, 2008. He was 93.
White served as the Society’s leader from 1966 to 1967 after having been a member for nearly 40 years. Three years later he was honored with the Wells Memorial Key for outstanding service to SPJ.
“Bob was a very enthusiastic guy,” said Richard Leonard, who was president from 1976 to 1977. “He traveled around the country and recruited people during a critical time of growth for the organization.”
Outside SPJ, White was the editor and publisher of The Mexico (Mo.) Ledger from 1945 to 1986.
Although many leaders of the Society at that time were from newspapers with larger circulations than the Ledger, White distinguished himself as a respected industry advocate.
“He got people enthused about membership and about journalism,” Leonard said. “Bob may have been with a small paper in Missouri, but he was tremendously influential.”
Although his paper was in Missouri, White traveled the country and world fighting for press freedoms and reporting on foreign affairs and conflicts. White amassed membership and leadership positions in numerous journalism organizations, including the National Conference of Editorial Writers, American Newspaper Publishers Association,
Missouri Press Association, Inland Daily Press Association, American Society of Newspaper Editors and World Press Freedom Committee. He was also a member of the Associated Press’ board of directors from 1971 to 1980.
His journey into the profession started in his youth, working as a carrier for The Ledger. The paper was a family endeavor, and he eventually took over as publisher from his father, who had inherited the family trade from his own father.
Leaving Missouri for college, White earned a history degree from Washington and Lee University in Virginia, which in 1970 awarded him an honorary doctorate for his commitment to First Amendment principles.
While he was always devoted to The Ledger, he worked with other news organizations as a reporter, editor and special consultant. White worked with United Press International in Kansas City, the New York Herald-Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times.
In 1966, after returning to Missouri from New York, White founded See TV, a cable television operation.
After selling The Ledger in 1986, he moved to Washington, D.C, although he returned to Missouri in 2000, where he lived until the time of his death.
White was inducted into the Missouri Press Association Hall of Fame in 1998, following the posthumous induction of his father, L. Mitchell White, in 1991.[b]Parry Sorensen
After nearly half a century of journalism education at the University of Utah, Parry Sorensen died Dec. 9, 2008, at the age of 92.
As a lifetime member of SPJ, Sorensen was committed to the principles of freedom of information and First Amendment advocacy through his work with the Utah Headliners Club, the state’s only professional chapter.
His work with the university extended well beyond his years on the faculty. In addition to teaching classes in journalism, he served as an assistant to the president and director of university relations. He also edited the school’s newspaper, the Daily Utah Chronicle, while working toward an undergraduate degree in political science, which he received in 1936.
Sorensen left the state to pursue a master’s degree in journalism at Northwestern, from which he graduated in 1940. Before working briefly as a special agent for the FBI from 1942 to 1946, he wrote for the Washington Post and Los Angeles Examiner.
He received an honorary doctorate in 1990 in recognition of his many years of service to the university. Aside from his membership in SPJ, Sorensen worked with the American College Public Relations Association and the Public Relations Student Society of America. The PRSSA chapter at the university is named in his honor.