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February 23, 2020

John Scott - A Journalist's Journalist
Last week, Francis Robinson added an article to his Keehotee Press II Readers' Blog. In the article titled "People I Miss" Francis recalls people in our community who have had an impact on his life in one way or another. One of the individuals he mentions is John Scott, the long-time, former newspaper editor of The Shelbyville News.

Francis' article elicited a comment from Jim Hall, who, as most of you know, has contributed many articles to this website. Jim also is a former Shelbyville News journalist and has fond remembrances of John Scott.

I'm sure I've mentioned before that Francis is a friend and classmate from Shelbyville High School. John Scott's daughter, Susan, is also a classmate. Susan currently resides in California but we have maintained contact through occasional e-mails during the past few years.

About four months ago, Susan shared with me a tribute that she wrote as a Father's Day remembrance. It is beautifully and lovingly written. If you never had the good fortune to meet John Scott, Susan's words paint an astonishing portrait of the man. And for those of you who knew "Scottie" I'm sure you'll agree he is beaming with fatherly pride at her way with words.

A Father's Day Tribute by Susan (Scott) Jagielko

It was later in life that I realized, although I wanted to be more like my mother ... lovely, warm, thoughtful, outgoing, and practical, I actually am more like my father ... opinionated, stubborn, idealistic, optimistic, and a dreamer ... and utterly offended upon hearing a double negative used in a sentence.

My father was a newspaper editor for 40 years. It was grand growing up with someone who loved his job. He would literally begin his early mornings singing Broadway show tunes, beautifully, but loudly. This isn't so bad unless you're a teenager and it's Saturday morning. His newspaper colleagues pleaded with him not to be so cheerful at 8:00 a.m.

He was imbued with the belief in the freedom of the press, and in fairness and justice. He would answer phone calls from irate readers, listening to their complaints, and he refused to be cajoled or threatened by those who didn't want something printed in the paper.

He taught me the appreciation and satisfaction of discovering words which evoke an immediate visceral image ... words that give a sense of place, a truth ... and that the power of the press carries enormous responsibility. He spoke out against bigotry, intolerance and war.

Besides his writing, my father gave my sister and me a sense of complete protection ... that he could and would take care of everything. He rather enjoyed the image of a knight in shining armor, although in reality, he had far more insecurities than my self-confident mother.

The most beautiful gift my father gave us is that he constantly demonstrated his love for our mother. Always attentive, every morning and evening, we would hear him tell my mother she was beautiful and he loved her. I grew up thinking all fathers spoke like this ... of course, they do!??

My father died at the age of 92. I celebrate him by reciting some of the words he wrote over 60 years ago, and which still hold value:

On Greed:

"We murder, we corrupt our politics, we allow our international bankers to sacrifice for gold the lives of our boys and men; lives not theirs to sacrifice. We learn to trust no one and to be suspicious of everyone. This, in itself, is an amazing retardation to progress."

And, in the defense of dreamers:

"If we stop a moment to reflect, we see that all we have that is worthwhile is the realization of a dream. All beauty in music, story, dance, and poetry, has come from those who dreamed. Our wonderful structures of steel and stone were seen in fancy before they became fact. Every ideal is given birth by reverie. Our thoughts are with the gods. The dreamer is not weighted with the ball and chain of convention. There may be smoldering, the all-conquering fire of another Tamerlane, who would (quote) 'grasp this sorry state of things entire, and mold it nearer to the heart's desire.'"

John Daniel Scott, 1921- 2003

Father and Journalist

Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, November 13, 2009
Article comment by: Jim Hall

This is certainly the John Scott I knew and admired.

We had such great people as local journalists back then.

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