Thursday, September 4, 2008
‘Beloved newspaper man’ dies at 72
Retired Mississippi journalism educator and newspaper publisher S. Gale Denley of Bruce died of complications from kidney disease on Friday, Aug. 29, 2008, at Baptist Memorial Hospital-North Mississippi in Oxford. He was 72.
Funeral services were held at Bruce United Methodist Church on Sunday, Aug. 31, at 3 p.m. Interment followed in Bruce Cemetery. Parker Memorial Funeral Home in Bruce was in charge of arrangements.
A native of Coffeeville, Denley was publisher of The Calhoun County Journal in Bruce and a professor emeritus of journalism at the University of Mississippi — where he taught from 1963 to 1996. Denley also taught journalism at the University of Southern Mississippi in 1958-59.
A third-generation Mississippi newspaper publisher, Denley and his parents, Sellers and Maggie Ellen Denley, established The Calhoun County Journal in August, 1953. His grandfather, George Elias Denley, purchased The Coffeeville Courier in 1907.
“Gale Denley was the most influential Mississippi journalism educator of his generation and a truly beloved newspaper man of the old school,” said Clarion-Ledger Perspective editor Sid Salter. “He was a gentle man who faced a lot of adversity in his life with courage and hope. Our friendship has been one of the great joys of my life.”
In 2003, Ole Miss named the newly renovated S. Gale Denley Student Media Center in honor of the man who led in its tremendous growth from a small student-run newspaper (The Daily Mississippian) to a comprehensive media center with one of the largest daily newspapers in the state, a commercial radio station, and a campus television station.
McComb Enterprise-Journal publisher emeritus Charles Dunagin, an Ole Miss classmate of Denley’s and a professional contemporary, called Denley “a man of unquestioned integrity.”
“Gale demonstrated an ability throughout his adult life to both practice and teach good journalism,” said Dunagin. “Moreover, he thoroughly understood and appreciated Mississippi politics, history and the varied cultures that make up our rather complex society.”
Charlie Mitchell, executive editor of The Vicksburg Post and a former colleague of Denley’s on the Ole Miss journalism faculty, said: “In the classroom and as a journalist, Gale Denley by talent and temperament influenced generations of journalists not to be afraid of anyone or anything, but above all else to be fair.”
Denley was the author of a nationally-syndicated column on small business and advertising and later a statewide-syndicated column on politics and general interests. His scholarly writings were published in numerous national journalism publications, including Editor & Publisher; Publishers’ Auxiliary; The Journalism Educator; and Journalism Quarterly.
He was a stockholder and corporate officer of The South Reporter weekly newspaper in Holly Springs and was for a number of years a stockholder and vice president of The Scott County Times weekly newspaper in Forest.
Denley was inducted into the Mississippi Press Association Hall of Fame in 1996. He was a former president of the Mississippi Press Association and the MPA Education Foundation.
Former Ocean Springs Record publisher and state political columnist Wayne Weidie, now a senior governmental affairs advisor for the firm of Adams & Reese, said: “Gale was one of the very special people in my life. When I ended my journalism career and moved to Washington almost 19 years ago, my political column was in 43 newspapers. Gale was the reason for that. He meant so much to his journalism students at Ole Miss but he meant just as much to our entire state.”
Over the course of his career, Denley held membership in the American Association of University Educators, Alpha Lambda Delta and the Association of Education in Journalism. He served as state director of the National Newspaper Association, director of the Miss. Scholastic Press Association, executive secretary of the Society of Professional Journalists, served on the board of directors of the Mississippi Council on the Humanities and on the board of trustees of Wood College. Denley was awarded the “Silver Inky” from Mississippi University for Women for outstanding contributions to American journalism.
Denley received the Golden Em from Ole Miss in 1983 — one of only four educators to win the award since its inception in 1958. The award honors an individual who has made significant contributions to journalism education at Ole Miss.
He was a member of the Bruce Rotary Club as a Paul Harris Fellow, Sons of the American Revolution, the Calhoun County Historical Society, and the Bruce Chamber of Commerce. For the last 20 years of his life, Denley was an enthusiastic member of the Neshoba County Fair Association.
He served on the area development board of the Tupelo-centered CREATE Foundation, the board of Sanctuary Hospice House and is a past chairman of the Dixie Regional Library Board.
Denley was a lifetime member of the Democratic Party and active in state politics. In the 1960s, he served as alderman and mayor pro tempore of Bruce, vice-chairman of the Mississippi Ethics Commission, and as a Bruce election commissioner.
Denley coined the phrase “Where Money Grows In Trees,” which was later adopted as the official motto for the City of Bruce.
He was a member of the Bruce United Methodist Church.
Survivors include his wife of 53 years, Jo Ann Scott Denley of Bruce; daughters Celia Hillhouse and husband Lanny of Bruce, Lisa McNeece and husband Joel of Bruce, and Deanna Adams of Tupelo; his mother, Mrs. Maggie Ellen Denley of Bruce; grandchildren Colby Hillhouse and wife Amanda of Bruce, Jo Ellen Bailey of Saltillo, Abby Rea and husband Sam of Bruce; Marshall Bailey and wife Whitney of Bruce; and Zachary, Samantha and Eli Adams, all of Tupelo.
Pallbearers were Dr. Bruce Longest, Terry Martin, Miles Jeffery, Robert Edward Oakley, Tim Phillips, Tim Denley, Barry Burleson, and Charlie Dunagin. Honorary pallbearers were members of the Bruce Rotary Club.
Memorial donations may be made to the following institutions: The S. Gale Denley Student Media Center Scholarship, UM Foundation, P.O. Box 249, University, MS 38677; or the Bruce Museum, P.O. Box 1013, Bruce, MS, 38915; or Sanctuary Hospice House, P.O. Box 2177, Tupelo, MS, 38803.
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