Ink gets in the blood, Part 1

                                                                                                              The Licking News Archives 1986
The Derricksons, along with the Licking Chamber of Commerce, 
held a ribbon cutting ceremony at their new facilities, circa 1986. 
Front row from left: Wilford Crow, Don Fox, Gene and Glenna Derrickson, 
David Bishop and Brian Friend. 
Back row from left: Howard Goebel and possibly Jim Hagler.
By Christy Porter,
Managing Editor

The Licking News is extremely grateful to Gene and Glenna Derrickson for the information provided, as well as for their professionalism and conscientious care of The Licking News during the Derrickson tenure.
The saying, “Ink gets in the blood,” is certainly true for the Derrickson family. The Licking News was owned, edited and published by members of the Derrickson family for 53 years. The news and communication link has continued into the fourth generation.
                                                                                  Photo Submitted
The Derrickson family - Gilbert, Esther, Gene and Marione - moved to Licking in 1945. Tom was born in 1946 after their move. The announcement of the Derricksons, of Ava, purchasing property in town from the Scotts, appeared March 15, 1945. March 22, 1945, announced “Mr. (Gilbert) G.E. Derrickson assumed management of the Ellis Store the latter part of last week,” and the Derricksons were welcomed to town. Store management was not new to the Derrickson family as Gene’s grandfather, Elmer, owned and operated a general store in Denlow, Douglas County, Mo.
                                                                                                                                                 Photo Submitted
                                                                       Photo submitted
Gene Derrickson at his grandfather, Elmer's, Denlow store.
Gilbert also worked for the Sweanys learning the newspaper trade, and he and wife Esther purchased the paper and printing business in the spring of 1951, forming Derrickson Printing Co./ Licking News.

In addition to The Licking News, the Derricksons also published the weekly Summersville Beacon, a Texas County newspaper, until 1963. They purchased and published a national monthly magazine called The Red Ranger and Foxhound Journal from 1963 until around 1982, at which time it sold to a company in Oklahoma.
The ink flowed through to their three children, Gene, Marione and Tom. All three children worked at The Licking News at different times.
Daughter, Marione (Derrickson) Martin, Editor of the Alva Review-Courier/Newsgram (Alva, Okla.), shared memories of her brothers in a Sept. 3, 1993, column. She recalls that, as a child, her first newspaper experience was child’s play covered in ink. With an unlimited supply of paper, Gene would help her and Tom fold paper hats and airplanes. Gene also taught the two about “type lice,” these being the metal slugs used for printing. It was a wet prank Gene played on them. She also learned a whole new industry language.
Marione and her husband, Lynn, were owners, publishers and editors of the Alva Review-Courier/Newsgram. After the passing of her husband, Marione continues the publication. She is not only editor but wears every hat in the company and even runs the printing press.
Sibling Tom worked at The Licking News here in Licking, leaving the business in November 1978. He then moved to Alva, Okla., to work in printing/newspaper for Marione and Lynn until his death in 2005.
Gene attended Licking schools from his last months of second grade until graduating in 1955.
His newspaper career with The Licking News started in 1949 at the age of 12, working for the Sweanys, hand folding newspapers.
Gene did have training in photography and dark room work, but most of his journalism and printing skills came from working with other newspaper people and a lot of it was self taught.
“We began doing engravings in 1953 after buying engraving equipment from The Houston Herald. Joyce Hendrix, a local minister, taught me to do the engraving,” explained Gene. “Applying the ink was a specialized talent as well. If not applied correctly your pictures would turn out as blobs.”

                                  Photo submitted
Gene Derrickson, circa 1956 – 1959, 
during his service with the U.S. Army.
There was a three-year period in which he served his country in the U.S. Army, entering service June 5, 1956. Even his time in the army was to contribute to his newspaper career, having photos in the Army publication, Star and Stripes. Gene continues to be very much a photographer.
Gene had assumed the picture taking and engraving responsibilities prior to entering the U.S. Army. A quote from Gene’s father, G.E., in an article in The Missouri Press News dated July 1956 says, “Ye editor had a rather rough time and got rather poor pictures and engravings for about four weeks after our son left.”
His basic training was in the state of Washington, followed by photography training in Fort Monmouth, N.J. He served 16 months in Korea, then was stationed at Fort Benjamin Harrison, Ind., to serve until his discharge.
He returned home and June 4, 1960, Gene married Glenna Schafer, who was also from the area. Glenna started working at the newspaper June 13, learning all aspects of the business and eventually becoming co-publisher and business manager.
                                                          Photo submitted
A young Glenna Derrickson, 
learning all aspects of the newspaper business.
 The second generation took ownership in February 1971, when G.E. passed away. Esther remained with the business as associate editor until 1982 when she retired. Gene and Glenna had the longest tenure in the paper’s history. They also had a small photography business, which provided supplemental income from 1961 – 1971, taking wedding and special event photos. The business started with black and white photography and Gene would oil paint the photos until photography evolved into color. Along with Lane Davis of The Houston Herald, they were also founding partners of Licking Cable Inc., started by Gene in 1971. The company provided cable television within the Licking city limits. The Derricksons sold their interest in the cable company in 1995.
During the long-term ownership of the paper by the Derricksons, the staff as a general rule was “as few people as you could get by with;” husband and wife, one or two typesetters, ad salesperson and ad designer. The news person, ad salesperson, photographer and typesetter were oftentimes all the same one or two people, husband and wife. More hands were needed on Wednesdays at mail out time. This was usually the children of the family, as soon as they got out of school in the afternoon. In that time period, Glenna says, “We kept our children at the news office.” For Gene and Glenna this included Katrina, Eric, Gina and Jason. Sometimes their friends would come by and help. There were snacks and maybe a Coke for everyone. “The Frosty Treat was always open for us,” say the Derricksons. They laughingly say, when asked, there was not a typical day at the office. Until the 1980s the newspaper office was open six days a week from 8 a.m. until they could go home. This was supposed to be the norm, but it varied a lot.
Gene’s main duties at the newspaper were photographer, dark room, front page stories and attending and reporting on meetings, such as the Chamber of Commerce. He attended every Homecoming at LHS until 1999. He attended every trout season opening on March 1 and was there for the whistle blowing, with the exception of 1990, missing that one only because he was at a Springfield hospital following strokes the night before. He attended every rodeo, most nights, until 1999, and was honored as Grand Marshal that year. He attended the yearly Intercounty Electric Membership fair from 1959 to 1999, taking pictures and reporting on the events. The annual Science Fair and Bug Collection at LHS were very important to Gene. He made sure he had pictures with names and awards given each year. Eric was allowed to help with these events when he came back to work with the paper in 1988. Probably most important to Gene were his approximately 20-plus years helping Santa Claus with his many duties at his busiest time of the year. Community involvement was a given as publisher and editor of the local newspaper, but Gene was also a Boy Scout leader in the ‘50s and early ‘60s, and additionally was a volunteer with the fire department.
Eric went away to college, came back to Licking in 1988 and worked at the family business, which is when the paper became more up to date with computerization. After Eric came back, Gene got to do more writing. He says, “I might be gone half a day finding stories. It might be riding in the back of the sheriff’s pickup, going with him on a case. This was before confidentiality restrictions. You gotta get it right,” and this included all news reports.
Eric served as advertising manager while Eric’s wife, Beverly (Ogden), was hospital administrator at Texas County Memorial Hospital, in Houston. Beverly would join The Licking News full time in 1998. She and Eric then purchased the paper and printing business in 1999, when Gene and Glenna retired. This was the family’s third generation in the business. They sold the newspaper and printing business to Donald Dodd in 2004, with Eric continuing to work for the company until 2005.
                                                                  Photo by Christy Porter
Glenna and Gene Derrickson; owners, editors and publishers of  
The Licking News, for the longest tenure, from 1971 – 1999.

The Derrickson legacy continues with six grandsons and three great-grandchildren. They have a grandson who is currently with Channel 10 in Springfield. It remains to be seen if there is still more “ink in the blood.”
This is Part 1 in a three-part story.



Last Weeks Top Story