Ev Bey had a long and successful career as a newspaperman (he eschewed the title "journalist").
He started fresh out of high school in 1936, after a two-year stint as editor of Central High School's "High Trib," as an advertising department gopher at his hometown daily, the LaCrosse (Wis.) Tribune, writing sports on the side.
One of his early duties 'way back when, was measuring and marking up the daily edition for the post office, a chore he routinely did at around midnight every Saturday for the Sunday morning paper.
The Tribune publisher wandered in late on Saturday night and inquired who he was and what he was doing. Bey explained that he worked there and was preparing the P.O. mailing information to accompany the second class mail. Asked how much he was being paid, Bey replied, "$10 a week."
"Young man" the publisher said, "you ought to be paying us; you're getting a helluva education" -- and he meant it. Bey conceded several years later that was indeed the case.
Five years later, Bey had worked up to a full-time job on the local retail display ad sales staff, but after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor he enlisted in the U.S. Army Signal Corps for what was almost a four-year stint, 1942-1946.
Moving to California after World War II, Bey took a job as advertising manager of the San Bruno Herald. After three years in that position he moved on to the San Luis Obispo Telegram-Tribune as the retail advertising manager.
In 1952 he moved back to the Bay Area, becoming co-publisher and editor of the Millbrae Sun, a position he held for some 17 years.
One summer morning he woke up to find 14 different publications, shoppers, etc., on his front porch -- and realized that The Sun was in competition with all of them. Taking a break from the dog-eat-dog routine, he went trout fishing in Plumas County. After dropping a buddy off at the Catholic Church in the small town of Quincy, on this particular Sunday morning, Bey went roaming around this remote mountain community.
He found the newspaper office open -- where they were working on the annual county fair edition. He went in to smell the ink and walked out some five hours later with a handshake deal to buy the place. Meanwhile, his fishing buddy waited for him on the church steps.
On Dec. 31, 1968, the deal was signed and he and his wife Faye were the owners of the county seat weekly, the Feather River Bulletin, which dated back to 1866. Bey was fond of saying, "We didn't just buy a newspaper, we bought a piece of history!"
A 16-page tabloid in the peak summer months, the Bulletin acquisition also included the Indian Valley Record and Chester Progressive, both tiny four-page tab-sheet publications; all were composed with hot type on a battery of four Linotype machines and printed on a four-page Miehle press. The deal also included three small offices manned by several employees and, at the time, was grossing $90,000 a year.
A staunch political conservative, who once described himself as "somewhat to the right of Goldwater," Bey introduced himself to his Plumas County newspaper subscribers as the new owner, editor, a Republican and member of the Sierra Club. Plumas County then voted three-to-one Democratic, and the economy was dependent on logging.
At the time, he said he was worried about being identified as a Republican, but he caught far more hell for belonging to the Sierra Club. That same membership had not deterred him from constantly opposing the environmental causes that have become the most controversial political issues in this mountain county. Eventually, a series of editorials urging the timber interests, environmentalists, community leaders and others to come together to discuss the future of the Plumas National Forest -- because Washington, D.C., wasn't getting it done for them -- resulted in the formation of the Quincy Library Group, Their lobbying efforts ultimately created the passage of a five-year forest-thinning program co-sponsored by Congressman Wally Herger and Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
An advocate of the people's right to know, Bey frequently tangled with local government and elected officials over enforcement of the Ralph M. Brown Act and freedom of information.
Some of his more notable challenges included winning public access to the results of a sex harassment case filed against the president of the local community college that the trustees settled for $100,000 during an executive session.
He also took Plumas County to court over its refusal to open a file containing additional information involving an investigation of sexual child abuse charges that caused the county sheriff to resign.
Bey always made CNPA's Brown Act booklet readily available to local government agencies. He did not hesitate to back up his reporters and editors in challenging the legality of secret meetings held or threatened by various agencies -- county supervisors, city councils, school boards, hospital boards, etc. As a result of his tenaciousness, a more open climate now prevails.
Under his guidance the papers proved to be very profitable and satisfying "sleepers" among newspaper properties in California. The business had grown to six newspapers serving two counties, published from six offices spread over 250 miles of timberland, with nearly 100 employees on the payroll and an annual gross in excess of $3.5 million. Currently the publications range in size from 32 to 48 standard pages, carrying from eight to 10 preprint inserts a week. In addition to printing and mailing other newspapers, his company also publishes its own monthly real estate guide, a full-color Visitors Guide and a two-county telephone directory.
Believing that everyone owes something to the profession in which they are engaged, Bey had been very active with the California Newspaper Publishers Association, serving as president of the statewide organization in 1984. He was also prominent in activities of the National Newspaper Association, serving seven years as regional director of NNA, 1980-1987.
During his career, he was also a member of Sigma Delta Chi (now the Society of Professional Journalists); Investigative Reporters and Editors; International Newspaper Promotion Association; Nevada State Press Association; International Society of Weekly Newspaper Editors; Suburban Newspapers of America (SNA); president of the San Mateo County Newspaper Publishers Association, a CNPA affiliate; California Newspaper Advertising Executives Association; a charter member of the California Society of Newspaper Editors; and the San Francisco Press Club.
In 1985, the California Press Association honored Bey with its Publisher of the Year award. He was also honored locally when the Plumas Chamber of Commerce named him Feather Merchant of the Year in 1983. In the meantime, his "ByLines" column had won NNA and CNPA writing awards.
Bey was among the first group of weekly newspaper publishers admitted to a special seminar for weeklies at the American Press Institute in Reston, Va. This was the forerunner of other API seminars devoted to the weekly newspaper field, and Bey attended two others on editing and advertising. This led to his serving on API's Western Regional Advisory Board for several years representing weeklies.
Although his papers are locally oriented -- "If it doesn't happen here, or to our local people, we don't have space for it in our papers," he would often say -- he had traveled extensively and brought a worldwide outlook to his writings.
He was among the 18 California publishers to visit Red China in 1978, the third group of newspapermen invited to tour behind the Bamboo Curtain after President Nixon's history-making trip there. He later led two other tours of California publishers to the People's Republic of China, as well as to Taiwan.
Besides twice visiting the Soviet Union, Japan and Korea, Bey also taught a seminar for weeklies at the University of Nairobi, Kenya, under the auspices of the World Press Freedom Committee. Brazil, Panama, Mexico, France, Italy, Switzerland and Norway were also on the Beys' itinerary over the years.
After his retirement in 1983, Bey was never one to be inactive. He and Faye enjoyed their winters in Sun City West, near Phoenix, Ariz. Bey pored through the Sun Cities phone book one summer and found the names of more than 200 ex-newspapermen and newspaperwomen who resided in those retirement communities (their phone books provide the occupations of retirees). Inviting them all to a luncheon in 1991, he saw the formation of the Ex-Press Club, which continues to this day with a membership nearing 150.
The regular monthly meetings have hosted a variety of guest speakers, including then-Vice President Dan Quayle's father Jim, a retired Indiana daily publisher; Arizona Sen. Barry Goldwater and other keynote speakers, providing fodder for the old-timers' gatherings. The group also tours Phoenix-area newspaper plants to see the new processes at work.
An avid cribbage player since his teens, Bey helped form the American Cribbage Congress, now some 7,000 members strong nationwide, and served as its president for five years. As a promotion for his newspapers for more than 30 years, he and the manager of the chamber of commerce co-started a local cribbage tournament, giving it the prestigious name of "World's Championship." The annual tournament continues today as one of the leading events of the ACC-sanctioned circuit and is now a major fundraiser for Quincy's local Rotary Club, generating some $200,000 to date for its local community service projects. Bey was especially proud that he won the World Championship in 1991.
Bey was well-rounded and very involved in other community activities. He was a past president of the Quincy Rotary Club, which bestowed its highest honor on a member, selecting him as a Paul Harris Fellow. He was also a member of the Masons, the American Legion, Las Plumas del Oro chapter of E Clampus Vitus (honorary '49ers miners spoof), Plumas County Historical Society, Plumas County Chamber of Commerce, Plumas County Museum Association and was past president of the Sun Cities Museum of Art.
After a lengthy illness, Ev Bey died at his home in Sun City, Ariz., on May 17, 2001. In 1974, his son-in-law and daughter, Mike and Teri Taborski, joined the company. The two continue to own and operate, just as Bey would have wanted, one of California's few remaining independently owned newspapers. "We learned this business from one of the best in the business, and we are proud to continue with his legacy," they said.
*Hall of Fame inductees are selected annually by a committee appointed by the California Press Foundation. They recognize career achievements of weekly and daily publishers in California who were important and influential in their era, as judged by their peers in the association. The write-ups are a historical and journalistic snapshot in time and not official biographies.*