Wiley W. Hilburn
|Wiley Wilson Hilburn, Jr.|
Wiley W. Hilburn (1970) at Louisiana Tech University
February 20, 1938 |
Ruston, Lincoln Parish, Louisiana, USA
|Occupation||Journalist; retired professor|
|Genres||Human interest essays|
(1) Ellen Riser Hilburn (divorced), now Ellen R. LaCroix
All from first marriage:
Wiley Wilson Hilburn, Jr. (born February 20, 1938), is a prominent journalist in Ruston, Louisiana, whose communications career began in the late 1950s when he was a student at Louisiana Tech University. In 1968, at the age of thirty, Hilburn returned to his alma mater to chair the Journalism Department and serve as director of the college news bureau. Even while instructing budding journalists for some four decades, he continues to write a popular weekly column carried by Gannett in both the Shreveport Times and the Monroe News-Star. He retired from the university position after forty-one years on September 1, 2009.
In 1962, Hilburn, at twenty-four, became an editorial writer for the Shreveport Times, one of the youngest such writers in the nation. That same year, Patrick J. Buchanan, also born in 1938, began writing editorials for the former St. Louis Globe-Democrat. Buchanan was, however, still twenty-three when he assumed his position in St. Louis. Prior to his joining the Shreveport Times, the largest newspaper in north Louisiana, Hilburn was the telegraph editor of the former Monroe Morning World (since merged into the News-Star) of Monroe.
Early years and education
Hilburn was born in Ruston to Wiley Hilburn, Sr. (1913–2003), who operated a dry cleaners, and the former Marie Trussell (1912–2007), an educator who was once the principal of a one-room school in her native Antioch community near Ruston. The senior Hilburn was the brother-in-law of Louisiana Lieutenant Governor C. E. "Cap" Barham, an attorney from Ruston who served during the Robert F. Kennon administration from 1952–1956, the year that Hilburn graduated from Ruston High School. The late Louisiana State Senator Charles Clem Barham, a Democrat from Ruston, who served from 1964–1972 and 1976–1988, was a cousin of Hilburn's.
Hilburn procured his bachelor's degree in journalism from Louisiana Tech in 1960. While he was a student, he also worked for the Ruston Daily Leader, gained practical newspaper experience, and became the editor of the Daily Leader. He thereafter received his master's degree in journalism from Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.
The Tech Talk
Former Louisiana Tech President F. Jay Taylor hired Hilburn to "liberate the [college] newspaper," The Tech Talk, which had previously been a noncontroversial journal of mostly honor rolls and academic listings and failed to address student issues, such as the Vietnam War, the civil rights movement, and the sexual revolution. Hilburn named Stanley R. Tiner, now editor of the Sun Herald in Gulfport and Biloxi, Mississippi, as the Tech Talk editor. "We started printing hard news, , , , And we wanted the editorial page to be powerful. We rebuked the notion that the voice of the paper should be trivial," Tiner told the Monroe News Star.
Hilburn and Tiner then recruited Reginald Owens as the first African American columnist of The Tech Talk. In a controversial defense of the Black Panthers, Owens recalled that Hilburn "taught me how I should temper [opinions], without changing my message." Hilburn named Owens the first black editor of the college newspaper. One night after naming Owens as editor, Hilburn saw a cross burning on his lawn. His first wife, Ellen, told him to call the police. He retorted, "That is the damn police." Owens now holds an endowed chair in the Tech journalism department and took over as head of the department in 2009 following Hilburn's retirement.
In 1983, Hilburn was cited by United Press International for the "Best Louisiana Column Award". In 1989, he received “Special Recognition” from then Governor Charles E. "Buddy" Roemer, III for "Twenty Years of Dedication to Louisiana Tech University". In 1993, he received the Louisiana Tech Alumni Foundation Award for Outstanding Teacher.
In 2001, Hilburn was inducted into the Louisiana Political Museum and Hall of Fame in Winnfield, a relatively rare honor for a member of the media. Through 2007, only three other journalists—the Shreveport Times political cartoonist Pap Dean, Iris Kelso of the New Orleans Times-Picayune, and the late newspaper chain owner Sam Hanna—have been chosen for the Hall of Fame. John LaPlante, Jr., of the Baton Rouge Morning Advocate was inducted posthumously into the Hall of Fame on February 2, 2008.
Hilburn is the author of several books, including New Seasons (published in 2004, a retrospective on fifteen years of newspaper columns), Fragments (also the title of some past columns), and Reflections of North Louisiana.
Hilburn, a Democrat, is an admirer of former Louisiana Insurance Commissioner James H. "Jim" Brown, who was forced from office in 2000 after multiple indictments but conviction only on one count for lying in an informal interview to an agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Early in 2005, Hilburn reviewed Brown's book Justice Denied in which the former commissioner, who also served as Louisiana Secretary of State and as a member of the state Senate, defends his conduct in office and denies giving false statements to the FBI. In his column Hilburn recalled the 1978 primary election for Louisiana's 5th congressional district seat in which the one-term Democrat incumbent, Jerry Huckaby, easily defeated Brown. Hilburn surprises readers; after praising Brown's public service, he reveals that he had voted for Huckaby in the race against Brown.Hilburn was originally a conservative Democrat who supported Richard M. Nixon in 1960 and Barry Goldwater in 1964, but thereafter shifted ideological lines to become decades later an active backer of Barack H. Obama.
On November 19, 2007, Hilburn published a column in the Shreveport Times which purports that Democrat former Louisiana Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco will be judged much kinder by history than the difficult circumstances which followed Hurricane Katrina. It was those difficulties that prompted Blanco not to seek a second term in the October 20 nonpartisan blanket primary. Hilburn attended a bipartisan reception for Blanco at the Squire Creek Country Club near his home in Choudrant in Lincoln Parish. Jerry Huckaby in retirement also lives in the Squire Creek subdivision.
Hilburn resides in Choudrant with his second wife, the former Kate Sartor (born March 5, 1949). He is the father of three children by his first marriage to the former Ellen Riser (born 1940), subsequently Ellen Lacroix of Baton Rouge. Gregory Todd "Greg" Hilburn (born May 1, 1962) is the chief political writer for the Monroe News Star, where Hilburn himself worked in the early 1960s. Greg Hilburn received his degree in journalism from Louisiana Tech in 1984. The other two children are Kevin Scott Hilburn (born 1963) and Anne Marie Hilburn (born ca. 1967), both of Ruston.
Hilburn's brother, Chester William "Chet" Hilburn (born 1945), also a Louisiana Tech graduate, is a retired newspaperman, having worked at the Houston Chronicle, the Alexandria Daily Town Talk, The Camden News in Camden, Arkansas, and the defunct Shreveport Journal. In 2012, Chet Hilburn authored The Mystique of Tiger Stadium: 25 Greatest Games: The Ascension of LSU Football. In the foreword to the book, Chet Hilburn credits his brother for encouraging his interest in LSU football.
- Bill Campbell, "Region's dean of journalism leaves editor's mark on generations", Monroe News-Star, August 2, 2009
- "Wiley Hilburn". voterportal.sos.la.gov. Retrieved October 9, 2013.
- "Book Speaks to Travesty of Justice, January 10, 2005". thelisburnpress.com. Retrieved June 16, 2013.
- "Wiley Hilburn Column: JFK - Guilt, grief and another direction, November 22, 2013". The News Star. Retrieved November 22, 2013.
- "Chet Hilburn, The Mystique of Tiger Stadium: 25 Greatest Games: The Ascension of LSU Football (2012)". WestBowPress: ISBN 1449752691. Retrieved September 10, 2012.
- http://www.shreveporttimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20071001/NEWS0804/710010320/1007/OPINION (Sample of Hilburn column on George W. Bush)
- http://www.rustonleader.com/obitsarch.php?id=448 (Obituary of Marie T. Hilburn)*http://www.cityofwinnfield.com/museum.html