Remembering Millard Grimes

Millard Grimes (ABJ ’51), a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, editor/publisher of nearly three dozen publications and ardent supporter of The Red & Black, died May 3, 2022 at the age of 92.

Grimes received the Distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award from Grady College in 2007 and was inducted into the Grady Fellowship in its inaugural class in 2008.

“Millard represents an era of media entrepreneurship in which news companies took big swings, some hits and some misses, and Millard won way more than he lost,” said Charles N. Davis, dean of Grady College.  “He was always a presence in Athens and at Grady College. I took many a wonderful call from him, and will miss him a great deal.”

Four writers for the Red & Black in the 1950s read an issue of the paper.
Millard Grimes (third from left) wrote for The Red & Black all four years that he was a student, and served as editor of the then-daily newspaper in 1950. Others pictured include (from l. to r.): Dewey Benefield (ABJ ’53), news editor;
John Pennington (ABJ ’51), managing editor; Grimes; and Norman Friedman (ABJ ’50), business manager. (Photo: Grady College Archives)

While a student at the University of Georgia, Grimes applied at the student newspaper, The Red & Black, during one of his first weeks of school and served all four years, including working as editor in 1950. He later named a member of the paper’s first Board of Directors, when the paper became a student-run publication in 1981 and he served on the Board for eight years.

Working at The Red & Black “was the best training ground for newspaper people that you could have had,” said Grimes in a 2009 interview.

During his time as a student at UGA, Grimes was associate editor of Pandora yearbook in 1951 and was a member of the Gridiron Society, Sigma Delta Chi Honorary and Chi Psi social fraternity.

A. Mark Smith, Charles Davis and Millard Grimes
A. Mark Smith, Charles Davis and Millard Grimes at lunch in 2013. (Photo: Sarah E. Freeman)

“Millard Grimes was a kind, thoughtful person who believed in the value of newspapers to a community and protecting and affording free speech to all,” said long-time friend A. Mark Smith, Sr (ABJ ’66), president & CEO of Smith Communications Inc. “He was a special friend to Grady College and helped many a student find a job. He was a special person.”

Grimes began his love for newspapers as a high school student starting at The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (Columbus, Georgia) as a proofreader and copy boy, and continuing with increased responsibilities during and after college.  He was a copy editor on The Columbus Ledger staff in 1954-55 when the newspaper was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for revealing government corruption in nearby Phenix City, Alabama. By the time the Pulitzer Prize was announced, Grimes had decided to leave Columbus to start the weekly Phenix Citizen. He returned to Columbus in 1956 working for newspapers in that city for several years, culminating in his job as editor-in-chief of Columbus Enquirer from 1963 to 1969.

Over the course of the next 50 years, Grimes would serve in a number of publisher and editor roles of numerous publications throughout the southeast. In 1977 he founded Grimes Publications, a company that owned and operated more than 30 daily and weekly newspapers in Georgia and Alabama including The Rockdale Citizen (Conyers, Georgia), Clayton News Daily (Jonesboro, Georgia) and the weekly Athens Observer, among others. Grimes also owned and operated two statewide magazines, Georgia Trend and Georgia Journal, of which Grimes was publisher and editor from 1988 to 1998.

Millard Grimes talks with a student.
Millard Grimes talks with a student in this undated picture. (Photo: Ruhanna Neal)

“Millard Grimes bought and sold, launched and expanded more newspapers than I can recall,” Davis said.

Not surprisingly, Grimes read three or four newspapers daily for many years, according to Smith.

Grimes served as president of the Georgia Press Association in 1985-86; president of the Magazine Association of Georgia in 1996-97; and vice president of the Alabama Press Association in 1981-82.

In 2020, at the age of 90-years-old, Grimes self-published his first novel, “The Last New Dealer.”

At the time of his Fellowship induction in 2008, Grimes shared his views about the state of the newspaper industry. He pulled the following quote from the book “The Last Linotype: The Story of Georgia and Its Newspapers since World War II,” that he wrote in 1985.

Grimes began by quoting the French historian Alexis De Tocqueville: “A newspaper can drop the same thought into a thousand minds at the same moment.  A newspaper is an adviser that does not require to be sought, but comes to you without distracting your private affairs.  Newspapers therefore become more necessary as men become more equal individuals.  To suppose that newspapers only serve to protect freedom is to diminish their importance; they maintain civilization.”

Grimes continued with his thoughts: “De Tocqueville wrote those words in the 1830s, when he could not have imagined how much more pervasive newspapers and other media would become.  The demise of newspapers and the printed word has been forecast during all of the 60 years I have worked in print journalism, and if that time is finally at hand, it will be a shame, not only for newspapers, but for “maintaining civilization,” a task the printed word still performs most ably as De Tocqueville recognized so many years ago.”

A nearly 90-minute interview with Grimes can be viewed here.  It was filmed in 2009 as part of the Georgia Politics Oral History Project through the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies at UGA.

The official obituary for Millard Grimes can be read here.

Grimes and his wife, Charlotte, have three children.

Millard Grimes and Claude Williams
Millard Grimes and the late Claude Williams (ABJ ’47) in 2007. (Photo: Grady College Archives)

Remembering Beverly Bethune

It is with sadness that Grady College announces the death of Beverly Bethune (ABJ ’50), a Grady College alumna and one of the first female professors to teach at Grady.

“I remember her as a groundbreaking faculty member,” said J. Thomas Russell, who served as dean from 1983 to 2000. “Beverly did much more than just teach photojournalism…and she did that with excellence.”

Bethune joined the Grady College faculty in fall of 1967, after earning a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota-Duluth and a Master’s degree from the University of Florida. While a student at UGA, Bethune was involved with the Zodiac Honor Society and Phi Beta Kappa.

Beverly Bethune looking at a negative sheet
Beverly Bethune looks at a developing proof sheet with a student in this undated photo.

Russell recalls that Bethune spearheaded the movement to make photojournalism a certificate program and helped the College earn a Gannett grant, allowing the department to make improvements and expand. She was also editor of “Six Shooter,”  the NPPA regional publication. She was also one of the first female faculty members to earn tenure.

Bethune conducted research in photojournalism, contributing findings and profiles about daily newspaper photographers. Some of her work was cited in Journalism Quarterly.

Bethune retired in 1991.

Wally Eberhard, an emeritus faculty member who died in 2018, had fond recollections of Bethune when he shared his memories during the Centennial celebration for the College.

Eberhard remembered: “She was one of the best and most committed teachers I’ve come across in a century of academic life.  She taught the then-required Journalism 101 survey to 300 souls….and they loved her and the way she brought them into the material.”

Bethune was also remembered fondly by her former students.

When Eugenia Harvey (ABJ ’82) was profiled for a feature in 2021, she cited Bethune as the reason she changed her major to journalism.

“Dr. Bethune patiently met with me after class and helped navigate, among other things, how to tell my mother that I would, in fact, not become a doctor,” Harvey remembered.

In a separate profile about Yvonne Lamb (ABJ ’75) earlier this year, Lamb again cited the impact of Bethune on her education.

“I will always remember two classes at the Grady College that helped to shape my career as a journalist,” Lamb said. “Dr. Beverly Bethune’s journalism course was one of them. I learned fundamentals that I applied and sharpened over the years. Dr. Bethune’s class prepared me to tackle my first newspaper internship, a stint on the campus newspaper The Red and Black, and the editorship of PAMAJO, the black student newspaper.”

Beverly Bethune talks with Mr. and Mrs. Ernie Hynds at a reception
Beverly Bethune talks with Ernie Hynds, former Department of Journalism Department head, and his wife, Mary Ann, in this undated photo.

Please read her official obituary for more details.