In 1985, Eric Allen, Jr., the prize-winning editor of Medford, Oregon’s Mail Tribune, retired. His journalism career spanned 44 years, earning him the title, “Dean of Oregon Editors.” Allen’s career has been compared to that of his father, Eric Allen, Sr., who founded and served as dean of the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism. Allen’s mother was a nationally renowned poet, novelist, and playwright.

At the end of World War II, Allen was the assistant to Republican Governor Earl Snell. After Governor Snell died in a plane crash, Allen accepted the job as city editor in Medford, population 17,000. Soon he became managing editor and editor.

In 1976 Allen accepted the Voorhies Award for the Mail Tribune. The paper, which had obtained a court order for media access to crime information, was honored for its opposition to the short-lived law preventing access. Allen, who wrote 12 to 16 editorials a week, supported many of his passions: land use planning laws, the Elk Creek dam, the Human Rights Council, and the best candidates from both the Democrat and Republican parties. His editorials on hand gun control even earned him death threats.

A year after Allen retired, he died at the young age of 66.

Sources: Kirchmeier, Mark. “Eric Allen Jr.: Dean of the Dailies,” Profiles of Oregon. Portland, Oregon: New Oregon Publishers, INC. 1985; “Former Mail Tribune editor Eric Allen Dies.” Mail Tribune, 26 December 1986; “Publishers Honor Allen,” Mail Tribune. 19 July l985; “Tribune Editor Eric Allen Jr. Retires,” Mail Tribune, 5 March l985; “University Names Journalism Award for Eric Allen Jr.” Mail Tribune, 16 November l986.

—As It Was is a co-production of Jefferson Public Radio and the Southern Oregon Historical Society. As It Was stories are broadcast weekdays on Jefferson Public Radio and are available online at asitwas.org.