Dale Freeman: “A Giant of Ozarks Journalism”

From an obit on news-leader.com by Mike O’Brien headlined “Former News-Leader executive editor Dale Freeman, known as The Ozarker, has died”:

A giant of Ozarks journalism, Dale Freeman, has died. He was 94.

Dale was a newspaperman through and through, and immensely proud of it. His favorite plaything as a child was a toy typewriter. As a teenager he was a printer’s devil in the backshop of his hometown newspaper, the Mansfield Mirror. After service in the Navy, he enrolled at the University of Missouri-Columbia and graduated from its School of Journalism while also playing on the Mizzou varsity basketball team.

Dale joined the Springfield Newspapers staff in the early 1950s and excelled as both a reporter and writer. He took a leave from the newspaper from 1956 to 1960 to serve as administrative assistant to Congressman Charlie Brown in Washington. Upon his return to Springfield, he resumed his newspaper career, serving as city editor of the afternoon Leader & Press, then chief editor of the entire newspaper operation here, which at that time also included the morning Daily News and the Sunday News & Leader. He also wrote a popular Sunday column appropriately titled “The Ozarker.”

In the 1980s Dale became Editor in Residence on the faculty of what was then Southwest Missouri State. He spent more than a decade helping mold the next generation of journalists.

Personally, I owe my career to Dale Freeman.

I was a junior in J-school in 1966 but an advertising major. Dale came to Columbia that spring in search of a newsroom intern and mistakenly was steered to me. I was charmed, and I agreed to spend that summer as an unpaid cub reporter. He didn’t ask what my major was — and when he found out during a lunchroom chat that July, he was angry. “I never would’ve hired you if I’d known you’re a @#$%&* ad major!” he bellowed.

I reminded him that he didn’t “hire” me — I was working for free. However, by then I’d become enthralled with news reporting and I told him so, which calmed him somewhat. It was too late to change my major, but I crammed extra reporting and copyediting courses into my senior year class schedule — although none taught me or inspired me as much as Dale had that summer. He actually did hire me, paying $90 per six-day work week, upon my graduation. And later, like him, I transitioned to college classrooms, first at SMS and then Drury.

I loved the guy.

I could ramble on for hours with Dale Freeman stories, but I’ll stop here. My screen is blurry for some reason …

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