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Corydon Democrat was one of best weeklies in Indiana

It’s a very sad day for the owners of O’Bannon Publishing Co., the dedicated people who work there now, the many people who worked there previously and for the community, now that the business has been sold to an out-of-state company.

The O’Bannon family has owned and operated the publishing company since Elizabeth native Lew M. O’Bannon bought it in 1907. Through the years, the publishers have been active as role models and leaders in community journalism and state Democratic Party politics, including Lew, his son Robert and his son, Frank and Frank’s remarkable wife, Judy.

Lew was once a candidate for lieutenant governor, Bob was a very influential state senator for 20 years and Frank succeeded him in 1970 as state senator and served as minority leader for 18 years. Frank’s amazing political career continued when he was elected lieutenant governor and served two four-year terms alongside Gov. Evan Bayh and then governor for seven years until his untimely death of a stroke in 2003.

The Corydon Democrat was one of the best weekly newspapers in the state for many years. It was judged Best Weekly Newspaper in Indiana 16 times in the Hoosier State Press Association’s annual contest. During our best years, when Denny Huber was publisher, we often produced a 40-page newspaper with four sections that included a lot of local of local news, a lively opinion page that featured many letters to the editor, a big sports section, social news and a ton of classified ads.

Most importantly, The Corydon Democrat enjoyed huge community support. It was not unusual to see a line of people outside the office when the newspaper was “hot off the press” each Wednesday morning. Most of the people wanted “their” Democrat, but others also wanted to see their friends, visit and talk with Ruby Rooksby and Phyllis Heishman, two loyal staffers who were front-office institutions for many years.

We were blessed to have many really good, hard-working and conscientious journalists in the newsroom. To name a few: Jackie Carpenter, Bruce Walker, Mary Ann Sebrey Whitley, Gale Bailes, Joy Lindauer, Steve Mellon, H.O. (Whitey) Jones, Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor, Alan Stewart, Chris Timberlake, Cary Stemle, Lee Cable, Susan Fey Dunlap, George Morrison, Wade Bell, Stephanie Taylor Ferriell, Chris Adams, Sarah Combs and long-time contributors like Wayne Willis, Marydee Meyer, Ed Runden, George Bickel and Judy O’Bannon, not to mention our steady county correspondents.

Over the years, we had many talented and wonderful people in the front office (Jeni Culberson Smith, Sheri Conway and Debbie McClanahan), advertising (Fred Cromwell, Evelyn Holobek and Jan Crosby), business offices (Kay Hess Richmond and Marva Alstott) and production (George Hess, Pat Armstrong, Leah Mosier, Joan Bush, Doris Housel, Kenny Schmelz, Vernon Harrel, Jim Barr, Buck Longest and Roland Reich).

We had our ups and downs, but, when The Corydon Democrat was good, it was very, very good.

Randy West | Editor, 1970 to 2005