Auburn University to host Newspaper Hall of Honor Oct. 2

AUBURN – Three journalists, all respected for their many years of service and dedication to communities as newspaper publishers, will be inducted into the Alabama Newspaper Hall of Honor on Oct. 2.

Karl Elebash Jr., who was the owner, editor and publisher of The Graphic in Tuscaloosa, and Ben and Libba George, owner and editor of the The Demopolis Times, will be the 107th, 108th and 109th journalists inducted posthumously by the Alabama Press Association since the Alabama Newspaper Hall of Honor was established in 1959.

The ceremony will be at 10 a.m. in the Alabama Newspaper Hall of Honor Room in the Ralph Brown Draughon Library at Auburn University.

As a native of Tuscaloosa and a graduate of Tuscaloosa High School, Elebash began his newspaper career at the age of 17, working in the mailroom at the Tuscaloosa News. He later attended the University of Alabama, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in commerce in 1941.

Following graduation, he continued his work at the newspaper for about a year before joining the U.S. Air Force. During World War II, Elebash served as an intelligence officer for a fighter squadron and was stationed in England.

After his discharge from military service in 1945, he returned to Tuscaloosa and became an editorial writer for The Tuscaloosa News.

Elebash spent some time working for the Press Register, The Wall Street Journal and South Magazine before he and his wife, Camille, started the Graphic, a weekly newspaper, in Tuscaloosa in 1957. Elebash, who would later serve a term as president of the Alabama Press Association in 1971, carried out the duties as the Graphic’s owner, editor and publisher for 22 years until the paper was acquired by The Tuscaloosa News.

Through the years, he was honored by the Alabama Press Association and others for his hard-hitting editorials, especially during the civil rights movements of the 1960s.

In addition to his newspaper career, he was an active member of the Republican Party and was elected as a delegate to the GOP national convention in 1984.

The first to be inducted into the Hall of Honor as a couple, Ben and Elizabeth “Libba” George were an integral part of Demopolis for 60 years. When the two agreed to return to Demopolis in 1930 to assist Libba’s father, E.S. Cornish, with The Demopolis Times, they were, in effect, continuing a family tradition. Through their leadership, the weekly newspaper became the heartbeat of Demopolis, as they attempted to report everything good that happened in their community.

Libba wrote the social news and her weekly column, “The Rambling Reporter,” while Ben covered other important news events, including police and fire reports. Together they attended every function that promoted Demopolis so they could keep the public informed. It was their belief that no function was too small to be of interest.

As Ben and Libba learned of plans and ideas, they became personally involved in civic activities that helped the city. Libba was a longtime member and past president of the P.T.A. and served as a volunteer tutor for a dyslexia program. Ben represented Demopolis through his longtime membership in the Alabama Press Association, which included a term as its president in 1956-57, as a member and president of the Demopolis Chamber of Commerce and as a member on the advisory committee for the Demopolis City Board of Education for seven years, which included time as its chairperson. The Georges attended the Methodist Church in Demopolis, where he sang in the choir and she taught a Sunday school class for more than 50 years.

(Contributed by Kevin Loden.)

Contact: Kevin Loden, (334) 844-9999 (lodenke@auburn.edu)
Mike Clardy, (334) 844-9999 (clardch@auburn.edu)