J. Wesley Sullivan (1921-2007)

Wes was born and raised in Portland. He graduated from the University of Oregon School of Journalism. He entered the Army Air Corps in 1943 and emerged from thirty-five missions as a B-17 copilot in England to look for work shortly before the war ended.

Wes decided to begin his professional life at the Oregon Statesman newspaper in Salem because of the training he could get under the experienced managing editor, Wendell Webb, and the reputation of the editor and publisher, Governor Charles A. Sprague. With the move to a new plant and the expansion of the paper, following the arrival of big stores and big advertising in 1954, he never felt there was any reason for him to go anywhere else. He found Salem a delightful place to live.

Wes was News Editor of the paper for the first twenty years, which meant he was in charge of putting the paper out at night, writing the headlines, etc. He found it a wonderful job. In 1957 Wes tried for a Neiman Fellowship year at Harvard University and was selected. When he returned to the paper he began writing editorials with Governor Sprague, which continued to the time of Sprague's death in 1969. At that time Wes became Associate Editor, in charge of the editorial page.

Wes supplemented his newspaper work with some community service. He was elected to the board of the Keizer School District in 1952. He served on various committees including being president of the American Red Cross board and a memober of the Salem City Library Board. In 1968 Mayer Vern Miller selected Wes to head up the Civic Center Committee and campaign. Twenty-six people spent a busy summer defining the project and taking it to the public. Previous campaigns had failed but this one passed by a margin of 8,000-plus to 5,000-plus, creating the new City Hall, Library, and Central Fire Station.

The library had been a central focus of Wes's community service. When former Mayor Miller had a stroke a few year later, Wes introduced the idea of a Salem Public Library Foundation, to help with Miller's rehabilitation. The Foundation took off, and now has raised many hundreds of thousands of dollars to supplement library service.

In 1975 Wes was made editor of the Oregon Statesman. When the paper merged into the Statesman Journal, Wes became Chairman of the Editorial Board until his retirement in 1986. The following year Wes was inducted into the Oregon Newspaper Hall of Fame. Wes wrote a personal column in the newspaper for more than thirty years, and continued to do so in retirement.

Wes's fifty-year marriage to Elsie ended with her death from Alzheimer's Disease in 1993. Later, Wes married Rosemary Frank until her death, Nell Crothers until her death and Ruth Gray until Wes's death in 2007.

In 2010 the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication inducted Wes into their Hall of Achievement.

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Early photos of Wes

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Wes's B-17 experience

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Civic Center Committee and campaign

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Wes's 85th Birthday Tribute