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Meltons inducted into Georgia Newspaper Hall of Fame

Quimby Melton Jr. and his wife May Melton were individually selected for inclusion in the Georgia Newspaper Hall of Fame during the annual Press Association convention May 30. It is a posthumous award. Celestine Sibley was also inducted last week. They join legendary newspaper people in the prestigious Hall of Fame including Henry Grady, Margaret Mitchell, Ralph McGill, Joel Chandler Harris and 85 others. The Meltons were former owners of The Herald Gazette and Pike County Journal Reporter along with the Griffin Daily News and other weekly newspapers. Quimby Melton, Jr., figured he edited and/or published more than 16,000 newspaper editions in his seven decade career. His column ‘Along Life’s Road’ was published in The Herald Gazette for more than 20 years. Herald Gazette publisher Laura Melton Geiger accepted the award on behalf of her father and family. ‘He was a good man and good newspaperman who always tried to do the right thing whether it was popular or not,’ she said. May Melton Geiger accepted the Hall of Fame award on behalf of her grandmother. ’In 1944 with only summer quarter left before her graduation from the University of Georgia, my grandmother was asked to be the first female editor of the Red & Black campus newspaper. All the men on staff were serving in World War II. She trailblazed the way for other women including the one who is credited for serving the full school year,’ Geiger said. She worked as a society reporter in Sacramento, CA and broke news of the marriages of many Hollywood stars. Back in Georgia, she was the society editor of the Griffin Daily News and longtime feature writer for it and weekly newspapers. ’When the Ku Klux Klan burned a cross in her yard because of a stance my fearless grandfather had taken in an editorial, my courageous grandmother turned that charred cross into a trellis for her treasured roses. She always looked for beauty and she always found it,’ said Geiger. Quimby Melton was well known for his activism in civil rights issues during the turbulent 1960s. He publicly opposed closing schools during desegregation and opposed the formation of a white supremacy group which led to a resolution in the Georgia House of Representatives to abolish the Griffin Daily News ‘as a public nuisance.’ He had a distinguished political career and served 14 years in the General Assembly, including six years as chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee. Under his leadership, every single bill to increase taxes was defeated in committee. He also chaired Gov. Carl Sanders’ House Education Committee and the Commission to Improve Education. Melton was a member of the Board of Regents. When the voters defeated a referendum to establish a college in Griffin, he started the drive for the University System of Georgia to take over fledging Gordon Military College in Barnesville. He later served as president of the Gordon Foundation for 10 years. Along with his wife, Quimby Melton Jr. joins his father, Quimby Melton Sr. and grandfather, Dr. Wightman F. Melton in the Georgia Newspaper Hall of Fame. It is housed at the Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia.

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