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Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Obituary - Dr. Russell Arthur Mann Jr.

Dr. Russell Arthur Mann Jr., age 89, passed away Sunday, February 21st, 2021 at Maison Jardin Senior Living Community in Morgan City, Louisiana from complications of COVID-19. 

Burial will take place 10:00 AM Friday, March 5th, 2021 at the Russell and Helen Mann Memorial Gravesite in Englewood Cemetery, Clinton, Missouri. Fond memories and condolences can be left online at www.vansantmillsfuneralhome.com.

Dr. Mann was born in Dallas, Texas on July 24, 1931, son of Russell Mann Sr., and Hazel Sigler Mann of Clinton, Missouri.

Russell Arthur Mann Jr. spent a career in community journalism, practicing for 25 years and then teaching journalism at the university level for 20 years. He worked as a reporter, photojournalist, magazine editor, and political columnist. He is best known for originating the political expression, “Straight from the kitchen table” which underscored the interest of ordinary people in a given political matter. Mann regularly used this expression in Highlights and Sidelights from Your State Capitol, a syndicated weekly column written for approximately one hundred Missouri newspapers during the early sixties.

Mann’s early education took place in Clinton, Missouri where he attended Jefferson Park Elementary School through the 7th grade. When the family moved to Kansas City, Missouri, he attended J.C. Nichols and graduated from Kansas City Southwest High School in 1949. During his senior year he served as advertising manager for the school newspaper, The SW Trail, and set a school record for the amount of advertising sold.

Mann began his professional career working school holidays and summers as a cub reporter for the Clinton Missouri Daily Democrat. He was hired by the interim editor Fred Ashcraft and remained with the paper after it was sold to Mr/Mrs M.M. White, continuing to work school holidays and summers.

In 1953 Mann graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism with a bachelor's degree in journalism. While attending the university he became a member of the Society for Professional Journalists (Sigma Delta Pi) and Alpha Nu chapter of Pi Kappa Alpha. During his senior year he was elected student council representative for the School of Journalism. He participated in the university’s ROTC program and was commissioned second lieutenant in field artillery at his graduation.

Following his college graduation, Mann entered the Army and was posted to the famed 50th Field Artillery Battalion stationed in Munich, Germany. While serving he was promoted to First Lieutenant and named adjutant of the battalion as it returned to the United States.

Upon completion of his military service he returned to the University of Missouri where he was appointed teaching assistant in the news-editorial department and began pursuit of a Masters Degree in Journalism . He completed his thesis under the direction of Frank Luther Mott, internationally known American historian and journalist and Dean of the School. The journalism of famed Emporia, Kansas editor William Allen White was the subject of Mann’s master’s degree. In researching his thesis Mann discovered copies of White’s many editorials that were preserved by White’s Linotype operator who accepted his recommendation to contribute them to the Kansas State Historical Society. During his studies Mann became a member of Kappa Tau Alpha, a college honor society that recognizes academic excellence and promotes scholarship in journalism and mass communication. Further advancing his career in community journalism he was accepted for the doctoral program in journalism and there he assumed the position of teaching assistant. In 1959 Mann was awarded his Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri.

After completing his master’s degree Mann went to work for the Missouri Press Association where he wrote a weekly political column covering state government news that he titled Highlights and Sidelights from your State Capitol. The expression, “Straight from the kitchen table” gained prominence during this time appearing in several of his columns chronicling a successful bid by the Missouri State Highway Department to establish a tax for an extensive highway improvement program that garnered wide support from Mann’s readership including farmers, small town residents and city folk throughout the state. In addition he edited the press association magazine “Missouri Press News” and managed the organization's extensive clipping service.

Eventually Mann left Missouri and traveled west to California where he joined the Lompoc Daily Record as news editor, reporter and photographer. The community newspaper located a short distance from Vandenberg Air Force Base, enjoyed an extensive readership. Here he received national attention for developing the newspaper’s policy of naming juvenile lawbreakers. The names of juvenile offenders and the names of their parents were reported for both second offenses and felony offenses. He was lauded by local law enforcement who recognized his efforts in journalism had resulted in significant reductions in juvenile offenses. In addition to advancing journalism for the good of the community Mann led the newspaper’s successful campaign to build a new public library for the community.

After completing a career of 25 years in community journalism Mann moved on to pursue a doctorate in journalism at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. During his studies he served as a teaching assistant. Mann’s dissertation dealt with the investigative reporting of Melville E. Stone, editor of the Chicago Morning News and the evening Daily News.

After earning his doctorate in 1977, Mann accepted the position of Director of Journalism at the University of Southwestern Louisiana (currently University of Louisiana at Lafayette). In a teaching career dedicated to journalism that spanned 20 years he modernized the curriculum and classroom. In 1986 he published USL Journalism Manual of Style and Format. He designed and assembled a center dedicated to teaching photojournalism that included a workshop, dark rooms and studio. Then he had the foresight to design and implement one of the first classrooms in the United States that replaced chalkboards and typewriters with multimedia displays and personal computers. This state of the art facility was dedicated to teaching students of journalism and mass communication their craft in a new era. When he retired enrollment for the school of journalism had increased from 32 students to more than one hundred. In 1997 he ended his professional career in community journalism and retired.

In 1964 Mann was married to Helen Ann Sexton of Kennett, Missouri. The couple resided together in Lompoc, California; Kennett, Missouri; Carbondale, Illinois and Lafayette, Louisiana. The couple had two children Sharon Kay born December 27, 1966 and Gregory Glenn born January 5, 1969. After retirement he pursued his interest in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional sleuth Sherlock Holmes and through local and international travel with his wife amassed an extensive collection of Sherlock Holmes fiction, scholarship, and memorabilia which he subsequently donated to Special Collections at Louisiana State University at Baton Rouge.

Dr. Mann is survived by two brothers; Dr. James Mann of Hannibal, Missouri and John Mann of Kansas City, Missouri; his daughter, Mrs. Michael Felterman, of Patterson, Louisiana; his son, Gregory, of Amarillo, Texas; three granddaughters, Ashlynne (Mrs. Terry Joe McIntosh), and Michelle and Chloe (Mrs. Jay Glassie); and grandchildren, Sebastian and Elizabeth Mann.

Arrangements have been entrusted to Vansant-Mills Funeral Home in Clinton, Missouri.