Aileen Chambers Evans, who attended R-MWC in the mid-1910s, was recently inducted into the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame.
As a student, Evans was a member of the College’s literary society alongside Pearl S. Buck, a member of the Class of 1914 who went on to become the first American woman to receive the Nobel Prize for Literature. Evans later graduated magna cum laude from Vanderbilt University, where she also played for the women’s basketball team.
Evans inherited the News-Democrat newspaper in Russellville, Ky. in 1940, when her husband died at age 47. Instead of selling it off as she was advised to do by the men around her, she owned, published, and edited content for the community newspaper for the next 28 years. In her farewell column, she wrote, “I have written miles of copy of every kind and have walked miles of concrete in advertising.” But the only time her byline appeared in the newspaper was on that final column.
Her original nomination for the Kentucky Journalism Hall of Fame was written by John Siegenthaler, the editor of The Tennessean in Nashville and a staunch defender of the First Amendment. Siegenthaler recalled writing a story on Thanksgiving Day 1953, revealing that a Russellville woman, who had disappeared and been declared dead, was actually living in Texas. Evans called her staff, and they published an “extra” before dinner. Siegenthaler’s letter reports that the story made international news.
Evans and her staff, according to the letter, won more than 70 awards in the annual Kentucky Press Association contest. Her ownership of the newspaper was a family matter. In addition to her children who worked for the newspaper, her grandchildren MichaelAnn Knotts and David Knox are both professional journalists, and great-grandson David Murphy is a producer at MSNBC in New York City.Tags: Aileen Chambers Evans, journalism, Pearl S. Buck