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Missouri School of Journalism

The J-School Magazine

June 2012

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Family Matters

The Price Family at Graduation
Bill and Mary Beth Price celebrate the graduation of their youngest daughter, Mary Jesse Price, from the Missouri School of Journalism in 2010. Photo courtesy of Mary Jesse Price.

J-School Legacies Share More than a Diploma

By Chelsea Harlan
Strategic Communication Student

Alumni around the world have experienced pride that comes with receiving a diploma from the Missouri School of Journalism - some have even made it a family tradition. As the Price, Schade and Sowers families know, being part of a J-School legacy forges a bond that goes beyond genetics and generations.

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Advertising Runs in the Family

When Mary Jesse Price, BJ '10, turned her tassel on graduation day, she became the most recent member of a Missouri journalism family tree.

The roots of that J-School family tree began with her grandfather James Price, BJ '22, and also include her father, Bill Price, BJ '63, and mother, Mary Beth Price, BJ '71.

Mary Beth Price in 1967
Mary Beth Price (right) stands with a sorority sister on the Tri Delta front lawn during a Greek social event in 1967. Photo courtesy of Mary Jesse Price.

After graduating, James Price worked as an advertising manager for major news outlets around the nation before becoming a University of Missouri journalism professor. He taught advertising sales for four years. A passion for advertising is a common trait in the Price family. After graduation, Mary Beth accepted a job in Chicago as a media buyer for KFC and Nestle under the marketing firm Leo Burnett.

Shortly thereafter, she met Bill at a Chicago-area alumni event. The two struck up a conversation while waiting in line to visit the dean. They soon discovered they were working for the same advertising agency. Their paths had never crossed until that day because they worked in different departments and on different clients. Bill worked in account service, primarily on the Kellogg account.

Mary Beth and Bill Price
Mary Beth and Bill Price travel to Boulder, Colo., to see the Tigers play the Buffaloes. Photo courtesy of Mary Jesse Price.

Bill and Mary Beth later married and eventually started Empower MediaMarketing in Cincinnati. The agency specializes in media planning and buying plus Internet and digital communications. The couple is no longer active on a day-to-day basis but do remain as the Empower board chairs. Their son, Jim, is the president and CEO.

Mary Jesse is the only one of Bill and Mary Beth's three children to attend the J-School. Being a member in a long-standing legacy was a daily benefit for Mary Jesse.

"They understood the culture, even where the buildings were," Mary Jesse says. "Although they were in Cincinnati, talking to them about things was really seamless and they could automatically relate to me."

The three share a love of the school, and on one occasion Mary Beth decided to relive a college experience by attending a strategic communication research class with her daughter. Mary Jesse sat in the back of the room instead of her usual front row seat, not appreciating how her mom "stuck out like a sore thumb."

Mary Jesse Price at Second City
Mary Jesse Price (left) performs on stage for The Second City, a leading improv-based sketch comedy group in Chicago. Photo courtesy of Mary Jesse Price.
Bill and Mary Jesse Price
Bill visits with his daughter (center) and her sorority sisters during one of the many trips he made back to campus each year. Photo courtesy of Mary Jesse Price.

After graduation Mary Jesse interned and was later hired at Cramer-Krasselt, a marketing and communications agency in Chicago. She then moved to Digitas, but decided to pursue another creative passion. Mary Jesse now works full time with an improv team.

The switch didn't totally surprise her mother, who says that Mary Jesse started doing celebrity impressions on the playground when she was a child. Still, Mary Beth thinks that Mary Jesse will eventually return to the advertising industry - after all, it's a Price family tradition.

Journalism: A Foundation for Anything

Dewey Schade, BJ '64, looked over the young woman's resume. As a commercial real estate owner interviewing applicants for a job opening with his company, he knew he had to find the right person, and she wasn't the right one. Her resume was littered with typos and grammatical errors. Schade remembered the hours he spent on the editing desk during his years at the Missouri School of Journalism.

"She used the word 'their' and meant "there,'" Dewey said. "Spell check doesn't catch that. Pointing out the error to her might have caused some anxiety. However, in the long run, I hope it was helpful to her."

Brothers Dewey and John, BJ '73, grew up surrounded by the newspaper business. Their father and uncle were weekly and daily newspapermen in southeast Missouri. As children, the boys would frequently visit the Missouri Press Association office in Columbia with their father. When the time came for them to pursue a college education, both chose to study journalism at MU.

John attended Southeast Missouri State then transferred to Central Methodist College where he earned a bachelor's degree in English. He was drafted into the U.S. Army, and as a First Lieutenant, served as a brigade information officer in Vietnam.

John and Dewey Schade
Brothers John (left) and Dewey Schade attend a reception event at the Jefferson Club Annual Dinner in April 2006. Both brothers were recognized for generous donations to the University of Missouri.
Dewey Schade at Jefferson Club
John Schade at Jefferson Club
Dewey Schade (middle photo) and John Schade (bottom photo) are presented with their Jefferson Club membership pins. They stand between Bob McKenny, former member of the Jefferson Club Board of Trustees and Darlene Johnson, former chair of the Jefferson Board of Trustees.

Upon completing his service, John enrolled in the J-School in 1972 with an emphasis in broadcast news.

Dewey was able to share insights with John about classes and professors.

"I earned my grades, but it was helpful that the professors knew another member of the family," John says.

After their graduations, both brothers decided to pursue careers outside the traditional field of journalism. Their J-School educations taught them to ask the tough questions and not accept anything at face value. This is a skill that Dewey honed later in life as a lawyer after receiving his law degree from George Washington University in 1967. He now works in real estate and serves on the appellate judicial commission in Arizona which nominates applicants to serve as judges on the Arizona Supreme Court and the courts of appeal.

John worked in policy development and media outreach management positions in both government and the public sector. He served as assistant director of public affairs and as education liaison for the California State Lottery for 18 years until his retirement in 2003.

During his professional career, he also earned a doctorate degree in Government from Claremont Graduate University.

John credits his training in grammar, writing and other communication skills at the J-School as "an important foundation for making my professional career a success."

Dewey says the J-School legacy he and John share strengthened their bond as brothers as well as their loyalty to the school. Both brothers are financial supporters of the university and regularly visit the campus for Jefferson Club and Chancellor's Society events. Earlier, John made frequent trips back to Columbia as a member of the Mizzou Alumni Association National Board.

"The Schade brothers' relationship with MU has always been a great one, in large part, because of the real-life experiences and long-term friendships which we developed while attending the best J-School in the country," John says.

A Legacy Worth Continuing

Tom Sowers, BJ '66, has a license plate on his car that reads "BJX2." It's his way of telling the world that he is the second in his family to graduate from the Missouri School of Journalism - and he's proud of it.

Missouri BJX3
Missouri journalism graduate Kim Sowers Tanner displays a custom license plate to the world. Her goal: to show everyone that she is a third generation J-School graduate. Photo courtesy of Kim Sowers Tanner.
Eddie Sowers
Newspaper man Eddie Sowers (front row, far right) holds a bundle of Columbia Missourians under his arm to sell by hand in 1926. Photo courtesy of Kim Sowers Tanner.
Tom Sowers and Jim Sterling
Friends Tom Sowers (left) and Jim Sterling prepare to celebrate the New Year of 1967 in Columbia. Photo courtesy of Jim Sterling.
Tom Sowers and Jim Sterling in 1992
Professor Jim Sterling, left, and Tom Sowers at the graduation of Sterling's daughter and Sowers' goddaughter, Stephanie (Sterling) Lawrence, BJ '92, from the Missouri School of Journalism. Photo courtesy of Jim Sterling.

His daughter, Kim Sowers Tanner, BJ '96, has a custom license plate of her own: "BJX3." For the Sowers family, receiving a J-School diploma is only part of their legacy's traditions.

The Sowers legacy began more than 80 years ago with Tom's father, Eddie, BJ '28, who was also the first of 10 children to attend college. It was at MU that Eddie decided to pursue a career in journalism and unknowingly start a family tradition that would continue for generations.

Eddie purchased three Missouri newspapers: the Rolla New Era, Rolla Daily News and the Rolla Herald. His son remembers him as a businessman who knew how to turn a profit.

Like his father, Tom studied news editorial writing. Both honed their writing skills in the newsroom of the Columbia Missourian. Tom remembers spending countless days at the copydesk where he edited and revised articles. He says his experience at the Missourian helped him run the family papers after his father died.

Tom also fostered close relationships with his classmates. Jim Sterling, BJ '65, owned community newspapers in the Bolivar area. The two collaborated on the challenges of running their businesses and have remained close friends. Sterling, who now serves as the Missouri Chair in Community Newspaper Management, is godfather to one of Tom's children.

In 1987, Tom and his family decided to sell the family newspapers when the strain became too difficult.

When Tom's daughter Kim enrolled in MU, she planned to study engineering but soon switched to advertising.

Jack Smith, who retired as the group president, deputy chief creative officer worldwide for the Leo Burnett Company in Chicago, convinced her to take his advanced creative class. He was impressed with Kim's understanding of the campaign process and recommended her for a job at Burnett after graduation. Kim is currently the senior vice president for the Kellogg account there.

As a mother of three, Kim hopes that her children will someday carry on the J-School legacy. She says her relationship with her father was stronger because they both attended the J-School, and she wishes her children could share that same opportunity.

"I'm just very proud to be a J-School graduate," Kim says. "Beyond that, it just feels really good to be able to carry something farther. My grandfather never knew me as an adult, and I think he would be very proud to know that he had a granddaughter in the journalism school."

Chelsea Harlan Chelsea Harlan, from Denver, is a recent strategic communication graduate of the Missouri School of Journalism with a minor in business. She was a 2010 summer intern for Pinnacle PR in Brussels, whose clients include the European Commission and European Parliament. She is pursuing a career in public relations.

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The J-School Magazine  |  Copyright © June 2012  |  Contact the School
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Revised: June 1, 2012. Copyright © 2012 The Curators of the University of Missouri  |  Contact the J-School