Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Former Kansas newspaper owner bequeaths $2 million to his rural community

Schmitty and Web Hawkins
A rural Kansas community received a surprise $2 million gift from the former owner and publisher of the Osawatomie Graphic and Louisburg Herald, Tom Eblen reports for the Kansas Press Association. "As he neared the end of his newspaper career in the late 1990s, Web Hawkins learned something that he had never expected. He was rich, or at least comfortably well-off." Web and his wife Schmity had no children, and left money to the Kansas Newspaper Foundation; his alma mater, the University of Missouri School of Journalism; the Osawatomie YMCA and others. "But there was plenty left. So Web and Schmitty decided together that they would bequeath the rest to the Osawatomie community, the place where they had made their living. That would be about $2 million to be disbursed by a committee of the Hawkinses' friends for deserving projects in their hometown." Web died on April 8. His wife died in 2009.

"In 1959 Web signed a contract to run Nelson Reppert's Osawatomie Graphic-News for two years and to buy a half-interest in the paper," Eblen writes. "Within two years, Web and Gladys, known as Schmitty in the newspaper fraternity, had completed the purchase and later official changed the name to the Osawatomie Graphic. Then it was off to the races, Web doing the journalism that he loved and Schmitty keeping an eagle eye on the business side. They were a power couple before power couples were featured in the popular press."

"The Hawkinses eventually owned several weeklies in Kansas, including the Louisburg Herald, Emporia Times, Linn County News and had partial interest in the Hillsboro Star-Journal and Herington Times," Eblen writes. Web also was involved in the Kansas Press Association, which he served as president in 1970. "He was president of the National Newspaper Association in 1988; KPA awarded him the Clyde M. Reed Master Editor Award in 1996 and the KPA Hall of Fame in 2005. He also served on the Columbia Missourian's board of directors for several years. In 1998, Web and Schmitty retired." (Best Places map)

Osawatomie native Larry Byers, who worked for Web several years before taking over the Herington Timeswith purchasing help from Web, told Eblen, "I know that Web and Schmitty put a lot of thought on the matter over a long period of time. The foundation will prove most beneficial to Osawatomie residents for decades to come. The people of Osawatomie will eventually come to recognize that Web and Schmitty were genuinely interested in the betterment of their town long after their passing." (Read more)

No comments: