Conversation dulled as waitresses carried a cake with red and white frosting and four sparkling candles into the room, IU alumna Marjorie “Marge” Blewett blushed, revealing a smile as her eyes began to twinkle.
Blewett was honored Monday afternoon in the Coronation Room of the IMU for her dedication to IU journalism and her 90th birthday during the Bloomington Press Club’s monthly meeting.
Blewett’s work and legacy inspired many people to study journalism at IU, including former Bloomington Mayor Mark Kruzan.
“The siren call of Marge Blewett was my call to come to IU,” Kruzan said.
Kruzan and Blewett met 40 years ago this month when he entered Ernie Pyle Hall for the first time to tour the school as a prospective journalism student.
Blewett will celebrate her official 90th birthday March 5, also known as Marjorie Blewett Day in Bloomington. Ten years ago Kruzan declared the day in Blewett’s honor to acknowledge the lives she touched and the contributions she has made within the journalism community.
Blewett said she was not surprised by the celebration but hearing from Kruzan was a pleasant surprise.
“I enjoyed that this celebration was small and with people that am I very close with,” Blewett said.
The Bloomington Press Club serves media professionals in the Bloomington area with speakers and networking opportunities. The surprise celebration was a community effort by members of the club, who President Steve Hinnefeld and Jim Bright, club member and public relations professional.
“Marge has been a significant part of IU journalism for the past 70 years,” Hinnefeld said. “She contributed a lot both as a teacher and a counselor.”
Martie Dietz, best friend of Blewett, said she learned the definition of loyalty from their friendship.
“She is genuinely nice to everybody,” Dietz said. “And that has helped me as a person.”
Blewett graduated in June 1948, and Dietz started in the fall of that year, so their paths never crossed. It wasn’t until 54 years later when Dietz returned to Bloomington after living in California for most of her adult life that Blewett and Dietz finally met.
Dietz had written a book, and the Herald-Times wrote an article referring to Dietz as an IU journalism alumna. From there, Blewett emailed her inviting Dietz to join the then Ernie Pyle Society, and they have been friends ever since.
“She said they ate free good food and talked about journalism,” Dietz said. “It sounded like the perfect opportunity for me.”
Blewett was born in Bloomington and moved with her family to Washington, D.C. She was the editor of her high school newspaper and wrote for the teen page of the Washington Star.
In 1944, Blewett returned to her hometown to attend IU and immediately joined the staff of the Indiana Daily Student.
Following graduation, Blewett worked at publications in both Bloomington and Lafayette, Indiana, and met her husband, Harry. Later in 1965, Blewett returned to IU once again to work full time as a lecturer in the Department of Journalism. Four years later she was named placement director for the School of Journalism.
Following her time on faculty, Blewett remained an active member of the IU family. In 1998, the Marjorie Blewett Internship was established to help journalism students who accepted unpaid internships, received the all-campus staff award for service to students and the University and a Sagamore of the Wabash from former Gov. Evan Bayh.
Blewett was inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame in 1999. She watched the School of Journalism lose its independence to the College of Arts and Sciences and transition to the IU Media School, which she still visits. Her most recent visit was for the 150th birthday celebration of the IDS, Feb. 22.
The meeting ended as the birthday cake was cut for eating.
“People who know her love her, and that’s a lot of love,” Bright said.
Pieces of black and white marbled cake circulated the room as people lined up in front of Blewett to send good wishes.
People expressed Blewett was the human form of IU journalism.
“I travel in the wake of Marge Blewett,” Dietz said.
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