Jerene Appleby Harnish and her first husband, Frank Bell Appleby, bought The Daily Report in Ontario in 1930. When he died in 1936, the task of operating the then-small newspaper fell to Mrs. Harnish.
She guided The Daily Report through circulation growth from 4,000 to 28,000, and collected numerous editorial and advertising citations and awards.
Under her leadership, the newspaper editorially spearheaded the drive for local membership in the Metropolitan Water District, pushed for industrial expansion, freeway construction and Ontario International Airport development and campaigned for civil service status for county employees.
Her tenure as publisher saw the West End through its transition from an agricultural to a suburban business and industrial economy.
Besides operating the largest evening circulation newspaper in San Bernardino County, Mrs. Harnish founded and became president of radio station KOCS in 1947. Broadcasting from Ontario, the station was one of the first in Southern California to transmit AM and FM simultaneously. She operated the station, later known as KASK, until its sale in 1962.
After selling The Daily Report to the Progress Bulletin Co., in 1965, Mrs. Harnish continued in publishing as chairman of the board of Times-Advocate Inc., owner of the daily newspaper in Escondido, and as chairman of the Victor Valley Publishing Co., which operated the Victor Press in Victorville. Both companies were sold within the past two years.
Dozens of charitable, cultural, civic and campus groups were beneficiaries of Mrs. Harnish’s support and philanthropy during her lifetime.
Her contributions to Pepperdine University made possible the establishment of the Appleby Center for American Studies and the Jerene Appleby Harnish Law Library on the Malibu campus.
The Assistance League’s Girls Club in Rancho Cucamonga is dedicated in her name, and her former Armsley Square home in Ontario was donated to the Girl Scouts.
She established the Appleby Fellowship at Claremont Men’s College in 1947, and the program made it possible for many foreign exchange students from Thailand and Turkey to study on the Claremont campus. The fellowship fund was a memorial to her husband. In 1973 she was awarded the Order of the Crown by Thailand.
Mrs. Harnish also donated a dormitory to Webb School in Claremont and an athletic field house to the Foothill County Day School, Claremont.
In 1965 Claremont Men’s College awarded her honorary doctor of laws degree, the first woman in history to receive the recognition from the school. She was cited as a “woman whose talents abilities and perseverance have distinguished her in many fields.”
“The rules used by me as publisher are few and simple,” she wrote in 1960. “The first one is to publish the very best newspaper possible with the money and talent available. Honesty in news reporting is of paramount importance, as it is in the conduct of any business. An abiding belief in the people’s right to know is another essential.”
Her affiliations and public service through the years included a wide range of organizations and groups. Among them were: California Press Women, Southern California Aviation Council, California Newspaper Publishers Association, Los Angeles World Affairs Council, honorary sponsor of the Foothill Chapter of the National Charity League, honorary patroness of the Assistance League of Upland, Peace Officers Civil Service Association, Red Hill Country Club and the Balboa Bay Club of Newport Beach.
Born Oct. 2, 1893, Mrs. Harnish received a bachelor of arts degree from Smith College in 1916. A year later, on Sept. 22, 1917, she was married to Frank Appleby.
On Feb. 1, 1938, she married Jay Dewey Harnish, co-founder of the prominent Ontario architectural firm of Harnish, Morgan and Causey.
*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.*