COLUMN: 1947 MEP award makes its way back home

Mark Spensley
Express Co-Publisher

     An interesting package arrived at the Express office on Monday. It was a plaque awarded to Charles Alfred Doxsee in 1947, awarding Charles the Master Editor-Publisher award for that year.

     Charles Doxsee was the editor of the Monticello Express along with his father, J.W. Doxsee from 1915 through 1939 and became sole editor from 1939 to 1948. Charles was well regarded throughout Iowa and his newspaper was highly respected for its fine printing and strong editing.

     Charles died suddenly in 1948 from a brain tumor. His son Wilbur had joined the Express staff in 1946 as a writer, reporter, photographer and advertising salesperson. Also known as Bill, the sudden loss of his father put the helm of the Express squarely on his shoulders.

     Ownership of the Express by the Doxsee family would come to an end six years later when Bill’s desire to jump into the creative world of color printing took him and his family to Rochester, Minn.

     A few years ago, I started corresponding with John Doxsee, one of Wilbur’s sons. John is now living in Texas. At the time, Wilbur was still alive and John put me in touch with his father. We emailed each other a couple of times and Wilbur kindly answered some of my questions I had about his time in Monticello. A short time later he passed away.

     Then John started talking about a long overdue visit to his birthplace, Monticello. When we finally met, it was exciting to meet someone in person with so much history connected to our newspaper.

     We spent some time talking about the Express history and John shared his experiences of growing up in Monticello and his family’s involvement in the newspaper.

     Shortly after I received my MEP award this past February, one of the first to congratulate me was John. I asked him about his grandfather’s plaque and he mentioned that he thought he knew where it might be.

     John emailed me this week with some history of Charles’ plaque. He said for years it hung on the wall in Grandma Doxsee’s house on North Gill Street in her library. When his grandma died in 1969 Wilbur inherited it and it went with him to Rochester.

     John ended up with the plaque and he eventually gave it to his younger brother Paul, who resides in Wisconsin. John put me in contact with his brother and he let him know I was interested in displaying the plaque at the Express with the approval of the family.

     When I first talked to Paul, he wasn’t sure about its location. He thought Wilbur had given away a lot of stuff and that maybe the plaque was part of that. Paul looked around in their storage room and came up empty handed.

     Paul did send me a photo of his dad shortly after being named Master Editor-Publisher and in the photo is an Iowa governor but he isn’t identified. Looking at the photo of Charles and comparing the photo of the then current governor at the time, Robert D. Blue, the photos do not match. It looks more like Governor George A. Wilson, who last served in 1943.

     Anyway, about a week later Paul did in fact find the missing award and shipped it back to its former home. I’m excited to find a place to hang it in the office and include some information to go with the award.

     Kim Brooks found the article when Charles won the award in March of 1947. Wilbur wrote a small piece about his father and how proud he was of his dad. It was also Wilbur’s first newspaper convention.

     Maybe someday we can locate H.M. “Johnny” Jones’ MEP award and display it here as well. I will need to reach out to his remaining family members to see if that might be possible.




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