AUBURN – Two journalists respected for their many years of service and dedication to communities as newspaper publishers will be inducted into the Alabama Newspaper Hall of Honor Saturday, Jan. 21, at 10 a.m. in the Alabama Newspaper Hall of Honor Room in the Ralph Brown Draughon Library at Auburn University.
R. Douglas Pearson Jr., who was the editor and publisher of The Daily Mountain Eagle, and Lancie M. Thomas, co-founder and publisher of The Mobile Beacon, The Alabama Citizen and The Selma Citizen, will be the 110th and 111th journalists inducted posthumously by the Alabama Press Association since the Alabama Newspaper Hall of Honor was established in 1959.
Pearson was a native of Tuscaloosa and served as publisher of The Daily Mountain Eagle in Jasper. He was a 1959 graduate of the University of Alabama with a degree in journalism. While in school, he worked part time as a salesman for The Graphic, a weekly in Tuscaloosa, and later at The Tuscaloosa News.
He sold advertising at The Maryville-Alcoa Daily News in Tennessee and in 1963 was named general advertising manager at The Montgomery Advertiser and Alabama Journal. In 1965, he became editor and publisher of The Cedartown Standard in Georgia. In 1972, he became editor and publisher at The Chillicothe Constitution-Tribune in Missouri and returned home to Alabama in 1980.
Pearson believed a newspaper should do more than provide the news, that it should be involved in improving the community. While at the Daily Mountain Eagle, he and his wife, Joan, began projects to provide coats and shoes to area children, as well as to place weather alert sirens throughout Walker County. He served as president of the Alabama Press Association in 1995-96 and served on several APA committees, including legislative, Hall of Honor and Better Newspaper Contest, at the time of his death.
Thomas and her husband, the late Frank P. Thomas, who was inducted into the Hall of Honor in 1983, set an example for all newspaper people with their spirit of community, service, perseverance and courage. The couple began working together professionally when they co-founded The Alabama Citizen in Tuscaloosa in 1943.
The financial success of the Tuscaloosa newspaper, which boasted a circulation of about 6,000, enabled Lancie and Frank Thomas to branch out and publish a second newspaper, The Selma Citizen, and then a third with the establishment of The Mobile Beacon in 1954.
Mrs. Thomas worked throughout Alabama from the 1940s to get people qualified to vote and was also active in civic, social, political and religious organizations in the state and the nation. She was on the forefront when Autherine Lucy, a black woman from Birmingham, registered to attend the University of Alabama. She turned the reins over to her daughter in 1994 after becoming ill. Still she worked as long as she could until she died in 2005.
Mrs. Thomas was not only esteemed for her teaching and journalism; she was well known for her community activism, receiving gubernatorial appointments and was highly respected for her work in the Presbytery of south Alabama.