Centennial Class Notes
We asked our alumni to share some unforgettable memories from their time at the Journalism School. The following reflections represent a handful of the many wonderful responses we received.
VERNA BRACKMAN KROUT (2005): Verna entered the J-School as a freshman, 10 months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. She remembers campus streets echoing with the sound of marching boots and the cadence counts of the 317th College Training Detachment.
She served as a Kaimin copy editor her sophomore year, a job she shared with two other sophomore women. In April 1945 she married Lt. Jack L. Krout and left to join him in Fukuoka, Japan, just a few months short of graduation.
Sixty years later, she inquired what it would take to finish her degree. She eventually received a call from Dean Jerry Brown, who told her that in his eyes she had long ago fulfilled the requirements – with honors.
“I was privileged to finally get my journalism B.A. in May 2005,” she wrote. She attended UM’s commencement ceremony that year, dressed proudly in her graduation cap and gown with a silver honors cord.
PATRICK J. GRAHAM (1952): Patrick spent most of his professional career working for one of western Washington’s leading weeklies. But he’s never forgotten his senior year at UM, when he was served as the Kaimin’s business manager. As he recalled, it wasn’t all work.
“One warm afternoon in the spring of 1952, some of the Kaimin staff decided to try to make hard cider,” he wrote. “So obtaining a gallon of cider, we added raisins and yeast, since we were told that was the way to make hard cider. Simply done, we put the gallon of cider in a file drawer in the Kaimin room for the weekend. We left the lid off, so it would get air and not explode.
“Arriving for classes Monday morning, we were met at the door of the J-School by Professor Ed Dugan, whose first words were: ‘I know what it is, but I don’t know where it is. I know you know where it is, and you’d better get it out of here!’
“Even on the first floor we could smell a strange smell.
“We quickly went to the file drawer and extracted our cider and poured it down a drain.”
DICK WOHLGENANT (1952): Dick was editor of the Kaimin during his senior year. UM’s yearbook described him as “calm and cool in his responsibility,” but he flared periodically on the editorial page, blasting fraternity Hell Weeks, press restrictions, and Wisconsin’s red-baiting Sen. Joseph McCarthy.
He writes that as Kaimin editor, he was “superbly supported by Tom Ambrose, Jewel Beck, Lew Keim, Bill Jones and Dick Smith, as associate editors, and Ted Hewitt, as our photographer.”
In the years that followed, Dick received a law degree from Harvard Law School (1957) and began a legal career that took him to Denver, Colo., where he developed the practice that would become Bryan Cave, an international law firm with 30 offices worldwide. He and his wife, Joan (Bristow), have three children.
“I have never stopped being a news junkie and, with great pride, I have watched the Journalism School grow in size, mission and reputation, blessed by excellent leadership,” he wrote. “May it ever be thus.”
BOB NEWLIN (1955): Bob, a former Montana Kaimin editor, remembers being in his reporting class one day when professor Ed Dugan confronted a sleepy student in the back of the room.
“They exchanged some words, and the boy jumped up, pulled a pistol from his pocket and shot once at Dugan,” Bob recalled. “Dugan fell to the floor, and the boy ran out. All of us were in some stage of shock until Dugan stood up unharmed by the blank but loud shot.”
The boy then returned to the room, and Dugan asked all the students to describe what happened on paper. Their explanations varied, and it hammered home the tenuous nature of eyewitness accounts.
KIM FORMAN (1956): Kim was a Kaimin editor, as well. He has vivid memories of Dean James L.C. Ford. “We joked to each other that the ‘L.C.’ stood for ‘Lower Case’ – out of his hearing range, of course,” Kim recalled. “Ford always wore a suit with a vest and tie and had a little rose bud in the lapel. Natty fit him.
“He taught my editorial writing class, demanding facts and sound opinion: ‘What's your source?’ and ‘Why do you say that?’ If you pointed to some problem, as he expected you to, he wanted a solution offered also. No other instructor in the J-School was a tough or prepared us as well for the world beyond.”
JAMES GRAFF (1957): James was a student in Dean Nathaniel Blumberg’s early Senior Seminars. The experience was unforgettable. “None of us, and I mean none of us, ever came to that class unprepared, nor did we dare to sneak a look out the windows at a Missoula autumn aglow with red and yellow maple leaves,” he wrote. “Good times, good classmates, good education!”
James also told us that he has just turned 80, but still skis the black diamond runs at Red Lodge Mountain and Bridger Bowl.
NORMA BEATTY ASHBY (1957): Norma recalled being impressed “and a little bit afraid” of Dean James L. C. Ford. Ed Dugan, on the other hand, endeared himself to students with his easy-going nature and sense of humor. Dean Blumberg was a major influence, “with his professionalism, skills and experience.”
Among her fondest memories, she wrote, are the friendships she made in J-School and has maintained since graduating 57 years ago. Among them are Joan Hoff, Carole Lee, John Bansch, Bob Gilluly and Gary Sorenson.
JACK COUNIHAN (1962): Jack transferred to UM in 1959. He recalled his first meeting with the “famed and feared” Dean Blumberg.
“He said he'd seen my transcript from Marietta College – and accepted me anyway,” Counihan wrote. “Then he asked me if I'd heard of the J-schools at Columbia, Northwestern, Missouri, Syracuse, etc. I said yeah. He said, well they're all pretty good, but you'll get a better education here where you have to work on the school paper, which is printed right downstairs. Hear it? Smell it? Feel it? I knew I'd come to the right place.”
Jack also recalled trembling one day in Blumberg’s seminar when there came a knock on the door. “Any interruption was welcome when the alternative might be to be called upon by Blumberg,” he wrote. “He opened the door to see who it was. He then turned to tell us a friend just stopped by to say hi to us. In walked Mike Mansfield, America's longest-serving senate majority leader.”
SUZANNE LINTZ IVES (1963): Suzanne recalled a softer side of Blumberg:
“The last day of Senior Seminar at the J-school in 1963, Dean Blumberg and we were practically in tears,” she wrote. “After a long, tough four-year program of study, humiliation and triumph, Nathan ended our college days by singing, ‘Hey, Look me Over,’ by Cy Coleman, from the award-winning (Broadway musical) ‘Wildcat,’ starring Lucille Ball. Even he teared up. I recall the line, ‘Look out, world here we come,’ which put me into tears. I later met Cy Coleman, and he sang and played the song for me. This time I sobbed.”
Blumberg set extraordinary standards for his students. If they failed to meet them, they could expect to read or hear one feared word: marshmallow.
SALLY GRAY (1965): Sally distinctly remembered the dreaded marshmallow tag – and the prank she and her fellow students played on Blumberg as they walked across the stage at graduation. Each graduate pressed a marshmallow into the dean’s palm during the obligatory handshake.
“I was the last graduate,” Sally wrote. “I walked across the stage, and the dean looked at my hand, which was hidden in the sleeve of my gown. He then looked into my eyes and said, ‘Not you too, Sally?’ My heart was pounding as I pulled the bag out of my sleeve, handed it to him and said, ‘No more marshmallows, sir.’”
RAYMOND DOMINICK (1966): Raymond came to Missoula on a Greyhound bus in 1960 from Chicago. He declared forestry as his major, but switched to journalism after his freshman year because he hated his science classes.
Journalism was no picnic, either. He recalled “those shot-in-the-dark scary questions during Senior Seminar.” He wrote that he was stumped the day Blumberg asked him to explain Einstein’s theory of relativity. “But I got a two-day reprieve and then gave the explanation,” he said.
He went on to a career in publishing, public relations and business and investment management. Along the way he and his wife, Rhonda, raised five children and enjoyed traveling.
PAULA LATHAM WILMOT (1967): Paula recalled working the Kaimin copydesk one night. “I was on the rim (and) Ellen Broadus, now Mrs. Fred Caruso, was in the slot,” she wrote. “We had a report of a marijuana bust and none of us could spell marijuana!”
BILL SCHWANKE (1967): Bill wrote that two of his strongest J-School memories sprang from the year he served as Kaimin sports editor, when the inimitable David Rorvik was editor-in-chief.
“Early in my term I was sitting in my sports corner at the Kaimin office when David walked in … and began riding around the office on the (wheeled) dictionary stand,” Schwanke wrote. “When he arrived at my desk he said something to the effect that he knew absolutely nothing about sports and that I pretty much had free reign to handle the job as I saw fit.”
His second Rorvik memory had to do with an internal controversy that never went outside the building, “like some of his other controversies did.”
“This one was strictly internal, when the guys in the print shop … refused to punch lead on an editorial David wrote titled ‘Why Jesus Shaves His Armpits in the West.’ A standoff ensued, Dean Warren Brier was called in to mediate, and the end result was an editorial titled simply, ‘Jesus in the West.’ Needless to say, it was a late night.”
CARL GIDLUND (1967): Carl wrote to say he flunked out of the University of Montana in 1961 “owing to a paucity of money, motivation and (mostly) maturity.” So he joined the Army. Over the next five years, he served in the Special Forces, won an officer’s commission, married and fathered a daughter.
He returned to UM in 1966 to complete his journalism degree, but it wasn’t easy being a Vietnam vet in the Sixties, even in relatively conservative Montana. “But I had protectors,” he wrote. “Professors Bob McGiffert and Ed Dugan were World War II veterans and, although they were hardly in favor of the Vietnam War, they buffered me against any criticisms that they heard from my fellow students for my roles in that war.”
Armed with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from UM, Carl went on to work as a public affairs officer for various federal agencies. He got a chance to work again in journalism too, writing for dailies in Spokane, Wash., and Anchorage, Alaska.
“While at UM, journalism Dean Warren Brier and I had become friends,” he wrote. “During the summer of 1983, I was able to arrange for Warren to join me at the Anchorage Times, where he worked as a writing coach and editor. He stayed in our home, so we resumed our social life as well as enjoying our professional relationship. I miss him very much.”
RONNENE ANDERSON (1973): Ronnene recalled the Kaimin stories about the era’s social changes (premarital cohabitation!) and what was then called the counterculture. She too credited Blumberg’s iconoclastic teaching style as her inspiration.
“UM journalism professor Nathaniel Blumberg was passionate about everything –especially a journalist’s duty to dig for the truth – and he passed his passion on to me,” she wrote. “His teaching style was both wacky and profound. He once talked for 20 minutes about the perverse role of alcohol in our society. While lecturing on 19th century American writers, he abruptly stopped and warned: ‘If anyone here does not know about Henry David Thoreau, you are an ass.’”
She wrote that she and a classmate spent their lunch hours gossiping about their shocking prof, who was as old as their fathers but who also wore beads and who had been to Berkeley. She also recalled his high standards, his scolding and his occasional praise.
She and her husband, Mark Peppler, developed a friendship with Blumberg that continued until his death in 2012.
LARRY BRUCE (1973): Larry wrote that he was only a sophomore when Dean Blumberg invited him into his office to ask a favor.
“He said: ‘Get the hell out my journalism school. There are enough incompetent hacks in the world today and you will only add to the heap. You are content to simply do enough to get by. You apparently care more about partying and having fun rather than being serious about being a good journalist.’
“I was stunned and mad,” Larry wrote. “I realized later how right he was.”
He took Blumberg’s advice but later returned to the J-School in the fall of 1972 after serving two years in the military.
“I was married and had a young son and was determined to prove Blumberg wrong about me,” he wrote. “About six weeks before graduating Blumberg again called me into his office and invited me to sit down. Again he asked me to do him a favor. I asked what the favor was. He said he would consider it a personal favor if I would list him first of my list of references when interviewing for jobs. I was, and am, so proud of earning that journalism degree but am just as proud of that day in Blumberg’s office."
SHANE MORGER (1981): Shane owes his R-TV degree to Mother – Mother Nature, that is. On a spring day in 1980, Shane, a senior, was cramming for his journalism law final. His poor showing on the midterm meant he had to ace the exam to pass the course and graduate. And then the skies over Missoula began to darken.
“It was when the ash started to fall that I knew something was not quite right,” he wrote.
Earlier that day Mount St. Helens had erupted, and its billowing ash cloud blanketed the Northwest. Officials warned people to stay home and urged businesses to close. Shane recalls that Missoula’s streets were deserted, and the groceries stores ran out of beer.
“When we finally got word that classes would resume, it was too late,” he wrote. “Many students were already gone, and, so as I remember it, the journalism professor decided to give everyone and ‘A’ on the final and average in our midterm grade, and thus giving us a final grade for journalism law. Mine averaged out to a ‘C,” so to this day I always say I owe it to Mother.”
TIM ROGERS (1982): Tim wrote that he enjoyed the classes he took from Bob McGiffert, Charlie Hood and Warren Brier. But it was his time spent in the Radio-TV department that he remembered best.
He worked on-air at KUFM and was part of the crew that produced the Grizzly coach’s highlight show for KECI for three years. “Plus, I got to broadcast the Griz and Lady Griz basketball games and Griz football for two years,” he wrote.
PATTY REKSTEN, Former Professor (1989): Patty was both a graduate student and a teacher during her time at the J-School in the 1980s and ’90s. She recalled a faculty that was tough and demanding but also famous as well for antics that included surprise squirt gun assaults on Professors Bob McGiffert and Dean Charlie Hood as they taught class. The water wars escalated until the day Professor Carol Van Valkenburg came armed with a gun connected to a water reservoir strapped to her back.
Dean Hood was often the target of the jokes. Patty remembered a time when the dean was in his office, his back to the window, engaged in deep discussion and unable to see the rude sign faculty members had posted just outside the window. “He would be talking seriously to a student … and wondering why the student kept laughing,” she wrote.
She also recalled that Hood was known for being “a tad bit absent-minded.” As a young professor, he often hung his sports coat on a hook outside his office. A young student, who had a crush on Hood, secretly and regularly put candy in one of the coat’s pockets. Years later, the former student, by then an editor at a large newspaper, confessed that she was the culprit. “He laughed and said he never wondered why he had candy in that pocket, (he) just enjoyed it.”
BRIAN WALKER (1993): Brian recalled there being a well-used couch in the journalism school. “I always thought about doing an investigative piece on how that couch was used after hours for my senior project, but I was afraid about what that would uncover,” he wrote. “So I took the safe route and wrote about the emerging Reserve Street corridor instead.
“I also remember a large quiet room in which all of the community newspapers across Montana were available. It was a great way to stay connected to your hometown during college. We've also come a long ways since the Mac Classics (computers) lined the college computer labs.”
TRACY (TOWNSEND) MANGOLD (2000): Tracy wrote about the stories Professor Bill Knowles told of his days at ABC News. “Every once in a while, he would invite some of his old journalism buddies to speak to the class,” she recalled.
She said she would never forget the way Knowles (“BK”) constantly jiggled the change and the keys in his pocket as he spoke in class. “Fortunately he has this booming voice that managed to rise above it,” she wrote.
She also recalled the time spent in 730 Eddy. “I miss that little building,” she wrote. “It had such a personality of its own. It was small but it was ‘home’ to many of us. It wasn’t unusual to see students sleeping on the couch between classes or eating their lunch downstairs while working on projects.
“On nights (when) we had to stay up late or even most of the night working on an assignment, I would stop at the coffee cart between the Fine Arts and Social Sciences Buildings and grab my ‘usual’ quintuple espresso. We were all a little loopy from lack of sleep as we worked on our assignments, but we worked together and helped one another. We were a close class. And we had a lot of fun, especially at the end of the semester when we all gathered at the Press Box to let off a little steam after finals.”