Marjorie Blewett , IU journalism icon, dies at 91


Marge Blewett sits kicked back on a chair, her feet on the IDS editor’s desk reading Alfred Kinsey’s “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male." Courtesy Photo

IU alumna Marjorie “Marge” Blewett died Feb. 15 at Bell Trace Health & Living Center. She was 91.

As a dedicated patron of the future of journalism, Blewett’s contributions cannot be overstated. When the Media School posted on Facebook about her death, comments piled up.

“She was the soul of journalism’s old school,” one man wrote.

“Marge was a treasure,” one woman wrote.

“She was a beautiful soul and a great advocate for her students,” yet another person wrote.

Blewett discovered her love for journalism at a young age, her daughter Joy Shayne Laughter wrote in an obituary. She was "bitten by the type lice" when visiting the World Telephone newspaper office at age 8. 

Born in Bloomington, Blewett moved to Washington, D.C. after her freshman year of high school.  At both high schools, Blewett wrote for the school newspaper, Laughter wrote. Blewett then returned to Indiana for college in 1944, and became editor of the Indiana Daily Student her senior year. 

A now-famous photograph features Blewett kicked back on a chair,  her feet on the IDS editor’s desk reading Alfred Kinsey’s “Sexual Behavior in the Human Male."

After college, Blewett worked in Bloomington at the Daily Herald, which later became the Daily Herald-Telephone. She moved to work in Lafayette, Indiana, yet returned to the Daily Herald-Telephone in 1955 as a news editor.

“For a woman to run a daily paper’s news operation was quite unusual in the 1950s,” Laughter wrote. 

Blewett got married in 1956 and had two children with her husband Harry. She quit her job to raise her children. 

But Blewett’s passion for journalism couldn’t be contained. She began working part time for the IU Alumni Magazine in 1960, and five years after that returned to her alma mater lecturing and doing various administrative work. This soon turned into a full-time position called placement director.

"Student reporters and editors, busily getting out a daily or weekly campus newspaper, seldom reflect they are writing a history of their university," she wrote in an analysis of student newsrooms.

Blewett created this job for herself, Laughter wrote. She connected students to jobs and planned various events, while starting an alumni newsletter, organizing the Journalism Alumni Board and being supervisor to the 1973-1976 remodeling of Ernie Pyle Hall.

She also established a fund with the IU Foundation to support journalism students working in unpaid internships.

“In retrospect, Marge thought of the journalism students of the 1970s and ‘80s as her ‘kids.’” Laughter wrote. “Today those alumni are leaders in the communications industry.”

Blewett's husband died in 1988 and she retired in 1990. 

That journalism flame couldn’t be subdued. She remained involved, writing columns for an alumni newsletter and planning events.

Blewett received many awards, including induction into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame in 1999 and a President’s Award from the IU Alumni Association in 2013. Then-mayor Mark Kruzan named March 5 “Marjorie Blewett Day” in 2007. 

“Recognition of Marge Blewett’s unique place in IU Journalism began flowing in the 1980s and only increased as she reached retirement,” Laughter wrote.

Blewett is survived by her son Daniel Blewett, her daughter Joy Shayne Laughter and her granddaughter, three step-grandchildren and two great-granddaughters.

The family is holding a private service and a memorial page is set up here. Donations can be sent to Belle Trace Residents’ Council’s Employee Appreciation Fund or the Marjorie Blewett Journalism Internship/Scholarship.

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article has been edited for clarity. 

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