Newspaper Publisher 1867 – 1951
By Nellie Robertson
Ink ran in the veins of Alice White Reardon nearly from the time of her birth in 1867 until her death in 1951. Born in Ft. Dodge, Iowa of pioneer stock, she was the second daughter in a family of five children. When she was two years old, her father established the first newspaper in Soda Bar, Iowa. Her newspaper heritage followed her throughout her life.
In 1890 Alice married John J. Reardon. The couple had six sons, one of whom died in infancy, and one daughter. In 1893 Reardon entered into partnership with Alice’s brother in the newspaper business. When John left the partnership, the family came to Washington in 1911 and to Monroe in 1913. Reardon bought the Monroe Independent and settled down to report on life in the small town. It became Monroe’s official newspaper. Ten years later the Reardons bought the Monroe Monitor and merged the two publications.
Alice helped in the newspaper office and still managed to take good care of her family.
When tragedy struck, not once, but twice, in a matter of weeks, Alice responded with courage. Her husband died on March 20, 1928, and on May 18th of the same year, John and Alice’s oldest son, Joseph, who had served in France in World War I and had been associated with his father in the Monroe Monitor, died in an automobile accident.
Alice bought her daughter-in-law’s interest in the Monitor, and her son Keiron, who would later serve in the state legislature, joined her as editor. Newspapers often spawn confrontational episodes, but Alice did not allow herself to become embroiled. She handled the business part of the publication with equanimity. She published the newspaper until she sold it in 1943.
Descendants and friends characterize her as a kind person, always busy. Great-niece Catherine Hammond said, “I never saw her mad or cranky.” She made crazy quilts out of velvet and embroidered with silk thread. Her family treasures those quilts. She also crocheted and knitted.
Alice was a well known and beloved member of the community. Of the things she is best remembered for, donuts top the list. When the goodies appeared at the Congregational Church bazaars, they disappeared before they hit the shelves. She generously shared her confection – but not her recipe. Not even her descendants learned how to make her donuts. A gifted storyteller, Alice did, however, share her life experiences with her family and friends such as former Monroe mayor Grace Kirwan, who sums up Alice Reardon in five words: “She was a wonderful lady.”
Sources: Monroe Monitor, Interviews with Grace Kirwan and Catherine Hammond;
WLP Story Number 17 ~
© 2002 Nellie E. Robertson