Forty years in state qualifies couple for native Nevada status |

Forty years in state qualifies couple for native Nevada status

by Nancy Hamlett

Minden residents Ted and Edna Conover are virtually native Nevadans. Moving to Reno in 1960, Ted said that 40 years in the state should qualify them for the honor.

Ted, who originally comes from New Jersey, and Ohio native Edna met while they were students at Ohio University, with Ted majoring in journalism and Edna in education. It was during World War II, and Ted elected to enlist in the Army, completing the Army’s basic engineering program at MIT and Rhode Island State University.

They were married in 1944 and saw little of each other while Ted was overseas. Wounded twice, Ted’s second injury required three months in a hospital in England, with an additional year in the United States. While Ted was fighting and recuperating, Edna taught in elementary schools.

Ted was discharged in 1945, and the couple bought a small, defunct newspaper in Baltimore, Ohio. After nursing it back to health, they sold it, beginning a trend of buying ailing newspapers and bringing them back to life. By 1959 they had owned five Ohio weekly newspapers, and Ted had been the managing editor of The Daily Standard in Celina, Ohio, for two years.

The Conover family now numbered five, with the addition of children David, Nancy and Linda. After receiving a master’s degree in journalism from Ohio State University, Ted accepted a faculty position with the University of Nevada, Reno, and the Conovers moved to the Biggest Little City.

“That was before Reno started to deteriorate,” said Ted. “People still knew everyone else. It was small and intimate, a nice place to live.”

– Career at UNR. For 35 years, Ted was a journalism professor at UNR and department chairman for 10 of those years. He contributed to the university, his students and journalism in general, earning a listing in Who’s Who in America in 1980-1981.

During the same time, Edna taught kindergarten and 1st grade at Brown and Huffaker elementary schools. Although their teaching careers were at two ends of the student spectrum, Edna said that there was a common thread.

“I would teach them in elementary school, and Ted would teach them in college,” said Edna. “We run into former students quite frequently.”

Since he was 12 years old and earning a Boy Scout merit badge, Ted’s hobby has been printing. His mentor in those early days was the financial editor of the New York Times, and it was this love of printing that led to the ownership of the newspapers. While in Reno, the love continued to flourish. Ted and Edna owned a large printing press, which they used to publish what they call the true free press.

Freedom belongs to the person who owns the press, said Ted. He is a member of the American Amateur Press Association, a nationwide program with four chapters. Members share the love of printing and honor old printing processes.

“Every month we submit copies of our publications to a central location, and they distribute them to all of the members,” said Ted. Members of Ted’s chapter number 300 or more. “It’s an eclectic group. Many are former and current journalists, but you’re just as likely to meet a truck driver or surgeon.”

With the advances in computer technology, many of the younger members are electing to desktop publish. Even Ted has succumbed to the ease of the computer.

“It’s a matter of necessity. We don’t have the room for a large printing press any longer,” said Ted.

– Changes. Printing methods have changed, and over the past half a century, the voice of journalism has changed as well.

“Money now drives journalism,” said Ted. “On TV we watch news shows, not news reports, a newspaper’s primary concern is the bottom line, not the quality of the news reporting. With chains and conglomerates, headquarters subtly puts pressure on publishers and editors. The people from headquarters may not be visible, but the pressure is still there.”

The Conovers moved to the Carson Valley eight years ago for the same reasons that many other people do.

“It’s beautiful and friendly,” said Ted. “We lived in small towns prior to Reno and we liked the idea of retiring to another small town.”

Ted continues with journalism by writing and printing “Scribbles” every month. He has two books to his credit. “Graphic Design in Action,” an introductory workbook, has been adopted at about 125 colleges and universities. The fourth edition of “Graphic Communications Today” should be released early next year. The second text is used in 300 colleges and universities internationally.

Both Edna and Ted volunteer in the community. Edna is the secretary for the Carson Valley United Methodist Church, and she spends one day a week at Gardnerville Elementary School, assisting 1st and 2nd graders .

“It’s the best day of the week,” said Edna. “Even with a 16 (students) to 1 (teacher) there is still a need for one-to-one mentoring. I love the freedom that I have to work with these children, and I enjoy being at the school, seeing what is going on.”

As a member of Kiwanis, Ted writes many of the news stories for the organization, as well as recently serving on the board. He is also a member of Friends of the Library.

“I was asked to join, and since I am a fan of libraries, it seemed natural,” said Ted. “All of the members support the library and raise funds.”

Camping and travel have always been part of the Conovers’ lifestyle. Ted said their camping style progressed from a tent to a trailer to a pop-up VW bus to a tent trailer.

“We hated the tent trailer,” said Ted.

“Right now, I wouldn’t mind getting another tent and setting out on another camping trip,” said Edna.

– Adventure. Travel included summers in England in the 1980s, and on a one-year sabbatical from the university, Ted and Edna joined journalists from 12 different countries for a study of international journalism. They visited Russia and Poland, and were detained at Checkpoint Charlie at the Berlin Wall.

“It was quite an adventure,” said Ted. “We had a 24-hour visa to visit the west, and on the return, a member of our group had a newspaper from West Germany. Many things were prohibited, and we were forbidden to take photos, but I managed to get pictures of most of them.”

Ted’s journalistic heart still beats strong. After poking fun at newspaper mistakes in the latest edition of “Scribbles,” he promises to reveal some of his own gaffes in the next edition.

“They are things that I would rather forget,” he wrote. “But turnabout is fair play.”