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LETTER: Legend of W.R. Ronald lives on

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opinion Mitchell, 57301

Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

Letter to the Editor:

I read with interest your comments on the Opinion page of March 19 regarding the former owner of The Daily Republic, W.R. Ronald, cleaving the “an” off the paper’s masthead and changing it to “Republic.”

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When Ronald purchased the paper in 1909, he also purchased the paper’s masthead -- so what took him nearly 35 years to change it? A few suggestions, if I may.

1. Shortly after the purchase, Mitchell had two daily papers when the Gazette switched from a weekly to a daily, with the editorial bent strictly Democratic. The Gazette eventually reverted back to a weekly.

2. When W.R. became the paper’s owner, its circulation was 1,025, by 1920 it was 5,200 and 1930 it was the second-largest paper in the state next to the Argus Leader -- The Evening Republican was becoming more financially independent.

3. W.R. was intensely interested in the plight of farmers, particularly the economy of the early ’20s and the Great Depression.

4. When Franklin D. Roosevelt became president in 1933, he needed someone knowledgeable of the farming community to chair his committee. Apparently some editorials came to the attention of FDR, and Ronald was off to Washington. The group eventually penned The Agriculture Adjustment Act -- essentially the farm bill. The next year the masthead was missing the “an.”

Fast forward two decades. A part-time job found me working at The Daily. The conference room was on the northeast corner of second floor, and if my mind has not failed me, there was a table in the corner with the old masthead -- sans the “an.” The masthead was not set in type, rather a very hard wood block and printer’s ink black.

Did employees know of the change beforehand? Did the Ronalds keep their decision to themselves and have the new Daily Republic banner in hand before the disclosure? Where is the old banner? Might someone have taken it with them when the paper moved? Or might it be in one of those cardboard boxes you have yet to open?

The legend lives on.

Bob Brady

Mitchell

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