The Society of Professional Journalists awarded the Wells Key, the Society's highest honor, to Georgiana Fry Vines Sept. 21, at the closing banquet of its national convention in Washington, D.C.
Vines, editor of the El Paso Herald Post, was elected president of SPJ in 1992. She was the third woman to serve as president and held the position longer than anyone before or since. Vines currently heads SPJ's national Leaders Council, keeping the lines of communication open between past, present and future leaders of the Society. She is secretary of the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation board of directors, the education arm of SPJ, and has chaired the Society's publications and membership committees.
After her year as immediate past president of SPJ, Vines took on the post of membership chair in her local chapter, then in East Tennessee, and successfully raised the chapter from small to large status. Vine has been responsible for bringing scores of individuals into leadership positions at both the local and national levels of SPJ.
"For many volunteer leaders, Georgiana Vines could be described as the wind beneath our wings," said G. Kelly Hawes, immediate past president of SPJ. "She is the definition of an outstanding volunteer, and I am pleased to present her with the Wells Key in honor of all her work."
The Wells Memorial Key was named in honor of Chester A. Wells, Sigma Delta Chi's second national president. He died in office in 1913 at the age of 26. Wells' brief time in office was marked by an inspiring dedication to the work and ideals of Sigma Delta Chi, and after his death, members decided to award a jeweled key in his memory each year to a member who had performed meritorious service to the Society. The first Wells Key was presented 78 years ago.
Before joining the El Paso Herald-Post, Vines was deputy managing editor at The News-Sentinel in Knoxville, Tenn., where she had been since 1968 when she joined the staff as a reporter.