Gary Rust to be inducted into Newspaper Hall of Fame

Tuesday, July 1, 2003

Citing him as "the genesis of what may be Missouri's biggest newspaper story," the Missouri Press Association will induct Gary Rust into its Newspaper Hall of Fame this year.

"He belongs there because of what he's accomplished in the newspaper industry," said Barbara Hill, the publisher of the Dexter Daily Statesman who nominated Rust. "He's just been quite the entrepreneur."

Rust, chairman of Rust Communications, will be inducted with five other journalists around the state on Sept. 27 at the annual MPA convention in Kansas City. Rust Communications owns the Southeast Missourian.

The other inductees are Lila and the late Robert Gunn of the Adrian Journal; the late Elston "E.J." Melton of the Cooper County Record in Boonville; William L. Miller Sr. of the Washington Missourian; and James C. Sterling of the Bolivar Herald-Free Press.

"It's an honor to have been selected to join this group of newspaper people and to share it with the community and my associates in the Rust newspapers," Rust said.

Rust also gave credit to George and Fred Naeter, founders of the Southeast Missourian. The Naeter brothers, now deceased, were inducted into the Newspaper Hall of Fame in 2000.

After working for his family's furniture business, Rust and his wife, Wendy, purchased the small Weekly Bulletin newspaper in Cape Girardeau in 1967 with the goal of providing fair and accurate news reporting. He purchased the Southeast Missourian from Thomson Newspapers in 1986.

Rust is now chairman of the company that publishes 17 dailies, 33 weeklies and 10 shoppers and has 12 printing operations in seven states.

Rust has also had a history of public service, including his election to the Missouri House of Representatives. Rust was subsequently elected to two additional terms before choosing not to run again to focus on his newspapers.

Rust retired from daily management in 2001 and turned the operation over to sons Rex Rust and Jon Rust and chief operating officer Wally Lage.

"This is a tremendous honor for our dad," Jon Rust said. "He's had a significant impact on the newspaper industry in Missouri."

Rex Rust added: "The whole family is proud of him."

MPA executive director Doug Crews said there were 30 nominations this year. He said there have been 63 people inducted into the hall of fame since its inception in 1991.

Crews said Hall of Fame inductees must have contributed to the newspaper industry in Missouri for a number of years, lived honorably, influenced unselfishly, thought soundly and displayed community involvement.

'Demand for excellence'

Rust certainly fits that bill, Crews said.

"Gary's passion for the community newspaper business and his demand for excellence in digging for news stories and promoting local advertising are traits that come to mind," Crews said. "He started a newspaper company from scratch and built it into a highly respected group of newspapers."

A screening committee and a selection committee of district press association leaders, MPA officers and Hall of Fame members select inductees from among those nominated.

Plaques honoring the Hall of Fame members are displayed in the Press Association office and in Lee Hills Hall at the Missouri School of Journalism in Columbia, Mo.

"He's been a savvy publisher," Crews said, "building a good team, embracing new technologies through the years and changing with the times so his newspapers could continue serving their communities exceptionally well."

Rust received the Suburban Newspaper Association's Dean Lesher Award in 1999, the top award in the suburban newspaper industry. Rust also received the Inland Press Casey Award for services to commitment and the newspaper industry in 2002.

335-6611, extension 137

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