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Former Tribune editor Jack Howey dies at age 93


INDIANAPOLIS — Hoosier journalist Jack Eugene Howey, who reported, edited and published newspapers for a half century and helped draft Indiana’s Open Door Law, passed away at 9:19 p.m. Wednesday at age 93.

As managing editor of the Peru Daily Tribune, it became the first Indiana newspaper to publish entire reports on school accreditation and paved the way for a new Peru High School that was built in 1971. Under his leadership, the Peru Daily Tribune was an early publication to give up hot type and use computer technology to put out the daily edition.

On one occasion when Howey learned that the Ku Klux Klan was planning a rally in a nearby hunting lodge, he and an FBI agent hid in bushes near the building. Howey wrote down the license plate numbers of the people attending and fearlessly published them the next day. The KKK was subsequently unable to reestablish itself in Miami County.

Howey was born March 29, 1926, to Basil A. Howey and Alice Elisa Vollmar Howey, in a boarding house operated by his grandmother, Isabel Jones Vollmar, in Michigan City, Ind.

Howey moved with his parents and younger sister, Nancy, to Gary, where his father was a printer on the Post Tribune, and later to Hobart, where he graduated from Hobart High School in 1943. He played cornet in the nationally known Hobart band. He attended Purdue University for one semester, but decided against engineering and sailed for a summer as a hand on the Great Lakes ore freighter Arcturus with the Merchant Marine before entering the Army Air Corps. Discharged from the Air Force as a sergeant in 1947, he entered Indiana University, Bloomington, to study journalism under Prof. John Stempel, graduating in February 1951. His first newspaper job was on the copy desk of the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette.

He was the first Ernie Pyle Scholar at IU and the first president of the IU Journalism Alumni. He was a member of the inaugural Little 500 bicycle race committee.

At the Indiana Daily Student, he met Mary Lou Cunningham, and they were married Aug. 11, 1951, in Michigan City where both worked at the News-Dispatch. He was promoted from reporter to city editor, and there they became parents of Elisa, Brian and Sara. In 1966, the family moved to Peru, Ind., where Jack was managing editor of the Peru Daily Tribune. He worked there until 1992, retiring as publisher.

“When the two of us served together on the national Board of Directors of the Associated Press Managing Editors Association,” the late South Bend Tribune managing editor Jack Powers observed, “virtually all the directors from other states were so impressed by Jack Howey’s dedication and intellect that they either wondered aloud why he remained on a smaller newspaper or made book on what big outfit would grab him. Indiana can be proud of the fact that he could have gone anywhere with great success, but chose to stay here.”

He also advised Nixon Newspapers leadership. In 1981, Howey told the board of Nixon Enterprises Inc., “… To be believed (a newspaper) must insist upon the highest levels of ethical conduct from its top management down through all levels of employees who deal directly with its content, whether it be news or advertising.”

The Tribune was an Associated Press paper, and Howey became involved with the Associated Press Managing Editors Association, serving a term as state president and representing smaller newspapers on the national board. Howey also was involved with the Hoosier State Press Association, and with that group was an author of Indiana’s Open Door Law, designed to keep organizations such as city councils and school boards from doing the public’s business in secret.

He was inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame in 1998, and chosen as a Sagamore of the Wabash by Gov. Mike Pence on his 90th birthday.

In 1994, Brian Howey established what is now Howey Politics Indiana, and Jack Howey served as his editor and business manager until recent years.

In 1998, Jack and Mary Lou moved to Indianapolis to be near their family. They are members of Union Chapel United Methodist Church. Howey was active for many years at the Jordan YMCA in Indianapolis.

He was honored to participate in a Veterans Honor Flight to Washington, D.C., in 2015. In April 2017, they moved to Lincoln Lodge at American Village retirement community.

Surviving with his wife, Mary Lou, to whom he was married 68 years as of Aug. 11, are family members Elisa and David Deer, Aaron and Alice Deer; Brian A. Howey and Susan Joiner, Thomas and Kali Howey and Stephen Howey; Sara and Jeffrey Glore, Michael Veatch and Joshua Glore. Jack was preceeded in death by his mother when he was 16, his father, and his sister, Nancy Howey Knapp.

Services are pending. Memorial donations may be made to the United Methodist Committee on Relief through Union Chapel Church, or to Indy Honor Flight.

Submitted by the Howey family.