GRAND ISLAND — Four journalists who have worked in Nebraska were inducted into the Marian Andersen Nebraska Women Journalists Hall of Fame Oct. 9 at Grand Island.
Lori Potter, a former staff writer for the Kearney Hub, is among inductees to the hall.
Because the induction was delayed last year due to the coronavirus pandemic, Rheta Childe Dorr and Lori Potter, who were chosen for the hall of fame in 2020, were inducted along with the 2021 inductees, Mary Blythe Packwood and Jill Claflin, during Nebraska Press Women’s 2021 fall convention.
Potter of Kearney was born on a farm near Wilcox and has been one of Nebraska’s most respected agriculture and natural resources journalists during her 35-year career with the Kearney Hub. Since she retired from full-time work, she has continued to freelance with the Hub and other Nebraska news outlets.
In 2000, Potter was chosen as one of 30 Fellows of the Leadership Education/Action Development (LEAD) program. She continued her LEAD involvement, traveling around the world with the LEAD alumni to learn more about agriculture. She has held an office or board position in Nebraska Press Women for almost all of her 43 years as a member, including four terms as president. In the National Federation of Press Women, she has held an office or a board position for more than 20 years, including two years as national president.
Jill Claflin, an Ohio native, first worked on the copy desks of the Cincinnati Post and the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, but found her way to Nebraska and with two friends bought the Callaway Courier in 1978. She later returned to Cincinnati to become an assistant managing editor, but came back to Nebraska to become managing editor of the North Platte Telegraph in 1985. She served as general manager of the Lexington-Clipper Herald from 1990 to 1993 and then became executive editor of the Telegraph.
Claflin then moved to Georgia and became editorial manager at Habitat for Humanity headquarters in 1996. She later became Habitat’s director of creative services and then its senior director of communications, a position she held until her retirement in 2014. She now lives in Cozad and is again active in Nebraska Press Women. She was named the NPW Communicator of Achievement in 2020.
Rheta Childe Dorr, born in Omaha in 1866, was the first editor of The Suffragist, the official newspaper of the new Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage. Once she moved to New York, she became a newspaper society editor who helped broker an alliance between society women and immigrant working women.
Her journalistic career included covering the Russian Revolution and getting as close as possible to the front lines during World War I. She was a true groundbreaker in journalism, in the battle for women’s suffrage, in improving the lives of poor women, and in her refusal to accept second-class status because of her gender.
Mary Blythe Packwood, who was born in 1907 and grew up in a newspaper family in Cook, left school at age 14 to work at her father’s newspaper, the Weekly Courier, and at the age of 19 became the youngest owner, publisher and editor in the U.S. when she bought the Courier from her father. She continued to publish the newspaper until 1944, when she and her husband moved to Sterling and changed the name of the paper to the Johnson County Courier.
While in Cook, in addition to her full-time job with the newspaper, she was the town’s postmaster for almost eight years and in Sterling, she was the dispatcher for the Sterling Fire Department for 30 years, along with serving on the local school board and as secretary of the Sterling Improvement Association.
With Rheta Childe Dorr, Lori Potter, Mary Blythe Packwood and Jill Claflin, the Marian Andersen Nebraska Women Journalists Hall of Fame has 28 members. The hall is displayed on the second floor of UNL’s Andersen Hall. It also can be seen at the Hall of Fame section of the NPW website, nebraskapresswomen.org.
Other honorees are Ruth Brown, Maggie Mobley, Rose Ann Shannon, Mary Kay Quinlan, Eileen Wirth, Willa Cather, Mary Ann Koch Blackledge, Sharron Hollen, Joan Rossiter Burney, Beverly Deepe Keever, Leta Powell Drake, Gwen Lindberg, Elia Wilkinson Peattie, Maxine Moul, Clara Bewick Colby, Mary McGrath, Mildred Brown, Harriet Dakin MacMurphy, Bess Furman Armstrong, Marj Marlette, Wilma Crumley, Beverly Pollack, Lynne Grasz and Deanna Sands.
The Hall of Fame was established in 2011 by NPW, with funding support by Harold and Marian Andersen, to commemorate the 65th anniversary of the organization as an affiliate of the National Federation of Press Women. These women journalists are recognized for their talent, initiative, intelligence and stamina, and for making a difference for the profession, for their communities and for those who follow in their footsteps. Nominees are sought from the public and honorees are chosen by the NPW Board of Directors.