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Richard Kleeman Wins Wells Memorial Key, Society's Highest Honor


Contacts: Sarah A. Shrode, SPJ communications director, 614/233-7588

ADAM’S MARK HOTEL, COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Society of Professional Journalists honored Richard Pentlarge Kleeman on Saturday with its highest honor, the Wells Memorial Key.

Kleeman — retired journalist, member of the Society’s Washington, D.C., Professional Chapter, lifelong champion of the First Amendment and a development officer for the Student Press Law Center — accepted the award at the President’s Installation Banquet of the 2000 SPJ National Convention. The Wells Memorial Key recognizes meritorious service to the Society and the journalism profession.

“During my nearly two decades as the Society’s executive officer (1962-81), there were few people outside the national officer ranks who could match the dedication and sterling contributions of Dick Kleeman,” wrote Russell E. Hurst in a nomination letter. “His service to the Society epitomized what an individual member of a voluntary organization can contribute — and, in Dick Kleeman’s case, brilliantly and selflessly.”

Kleeman has served the Society as a charter member of the Society’s Minnesota Professional Chapter, Region 6 director, a member of the SPJ Board of Directors, chairman of the National Freedom of Information Committee director of Project Sunshine and president of the Washington, D.C., Pro Chapter. He served as co-chairman of SPJ’s Minneapolis National Convention in the 1960s and general chairman of the Washington, D.C., convention in 1981.

Kleeman worked for the Minneapolis Tribune for 22 years. He was the newspaper’s national education editor and later worked as a political reporter in the Tribune’s Washington, D.C., bureau.

While education editor for the Tribune, Kleeman traveled the South with the late Carl Rowan after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to desegregate schools in Brown vs. the Board of Education. The duo reported on what effect the decision had on the South, and Rowan reported the experience in a chapter of his book.

Kleeman currently serves on the boards of The Harvard Club in Washington, D.C., and works with national Planned Parenthood. He also was active in The Newspaper Guild while working at the Minneapolis Tribune, led the Freedom to Read Project for the Association of American Publishers and previously served as a consultant to The Media Institute.

Kleeman and his wife, Roz, live in Washington, D.C.

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