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Steve McGill is the winner of Week 21 of Orofino History Trivia.

The answer is Robert Donovan Werner, former publisher of the Clearwater Tribune. Thank you to his son, John, for the biographical information.

Youngest of three siblings, Robert Donovan Werner was born in Indiana May 18, 1908, then moved to Kansas, as his father John took up college professor's work.

The family again moved when he was a small boy to Albion, ID to where his dad was called to be in charge of teacher training at South Idaho College of Education (SICE). The "normal school" as they were called, was a sister then of North Idaho College of Education (NICE) in Lewiston, now Lewis Clark State College (LCSC). SICE closed many years ago.

In the depth of early hard times in Albion his dad bought a 100-lb. sack of hominy to help his family through a lean spot. His mother, Sadie, made hominy an all too frequent table staple, causing at least this member of the family to eschew it. (Robert more or less forbade his wife ever to serve it.)

Robert (Bob) attended Albion schools, graduated in journalism from the University of Washington in 1930, and then worked as a cub reporter on the Burley Bulletin for then Publisher Henry Dworshak (who later became the U.S. Senator from Idaho).

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Bob met his future wife Vera Bryant, a high school commercial (typing) teacher, at Mrs. Daven's, the rooming and boarding house where they lived. After they were married in 1936, he joined the Salt Lake Tribune as regional correspondent in Twin Falls. (While covering high school sports for the Glens Ferry team, he nicknamed it the "River Pilots," a moniker that has stuck and is still the team's nickname.)

In the 1940s he would dash down to the Twin Falls train station at 3 p.m. or so and run up alongside the mail car on the train to Salt Lake, with his late news report, tossing his stamped (3c) letter onto the floor of the open mail car door. The mail clerk would call out, "We've got it, Bob." The mail would reach Salt Lake and be delivered that evening (there were several mail deliveries a day then), in time for inclusion in the next day's newspaper! It was his "Internet," perhaps, far cheaper than a long distance phone call.

In trips to Orofino to see his in-laws, Bob became well acquainted with Loren Johnson, publisher of the Clearwater Tribune. When Johnson decided to go back into the Marine Corps in WWII, he called Bob and asked him, "How would you like to buy a newspaper?" He did, in 1942, and the family moved to Orofino. They lived first in the back half of the Dr. R.J. Kinney home (the front of which is now occupied by the Real Estaters Office. Dr. Kinney, a dentist, also had been called back into military service.) A year or so later the Werners bought the house of county officer, Lisle Garrison, and moved into 132 A street, second house behind the Post Office, where they lived the rest of their lives. (Garrison was indicted and convicted of embezzlement and served time in prison for his frailty.)

In '48 the Werner family lived for six months in Washington, D.C. where Bob was administrative assistant to Senator. Dworshak, who later was instrumental in getting the legislation for the dam and fish hatchery at Ahsahka through Congress. Werner, among others, subseqently helped get the facility named for Dworshak. Such efforts in those days were bipartisan, with prominent Republicans like Mayor Bert Curtis and prominent attorney Ray McNichols (a Democrat) going to Washington D.C. to lobby together for this cause.

A hard working journalist, he was active in the Idaho Newspaper Publisher Association., served on the State Hospitals Board (which oversaw State Hospitals North (Orofino) and South (Blackfoot). After his retirement in 1969, he was an Orofino City Councilman for a term or two. Starting in the '60s he served for many years on the Potlatch Forests, Inc. Foundation Board, helping administer its scholarship and other philanthropic works.

He was active in the Republican party and once helped persuade the Clearwater County Fair Board it was okay for politicians (of any stripe) to have booths at the county fair. After he "retired" in 1969 he continued writing news for the McNalls, the paper's new owners, for several years. He just loved to write, in those days on trusty Underwood and Remington typewriters.

In retirement the Werners bought an RV (Recreational Vehicle) which they dubbed the Werner Wannigan (nicknamed for the historic log drive rafts) and for many years enjoyed touring the West from their mobile quarters. It was often seen parked between the first and second homes behind the Post Office.

In 1986, after celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary, and enduring the rigors of cancer treatment, he and Vera served as marshals for the Clearwater County Fair and Orofino Lumberjack Days parade. He died later that year, leaving his wife Vera (who died in 1999), son John in New York state, daughter Linda in California and a grandson Jonathan, now in Maine.

Monday: This person learned to hate hominy during the Depression.

Tuesday: Though a "Husky," this person became an honorary member of the University of Idaho alumni association.

Wednesday: This person was born in Indiana, one of three offspring of an educator, later called to Albion Normal School.

Thursday: He married an Orofino gal in 1936 and moved to Orofino in 1942.

Friday: He was instrumental in getting the dam across the North Fork named for his old boss.

Saturday: He loved to write and with a trusty Underwood or Remington typewriter recorded the news of Orofino and Clearwater County for several decades.

Monday: He was grand marshall of the Orofino Lumberjack Days parade after he retired from the media.

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Window on the Clearwater
P.O. Box 2444
Orofino, ID 83544
Fax: 208-476-3407