Gift of gab was part of Jewett's appeal

In the late summer of 1975, I had worked at the Mail Tribune for only a couple weeks. But that was plenty of time to learn two of Dick Jewett's personality traits.

One, the former M-T sports editor was among the kindest, most gentle men I had ever met. And two, he could out-talk a car salesman.

Jewett, who died Monday in Salem at the age of 90, was on the phone chatting up our managing editor so vigorously one morning that the latter was barely able to wedge in a word. The morning's first pot of coffee was brewing as the sun inched over Roxy Ann Peak and into the newsroom. Rather than interrupt Jewett, the editor made the two-minute trip to the coffee room and back without Jewett's knowledge. Upon his return, Dick was still in mid-sentence.

The rest of the newsroom got a chuckle out of that, but Jewett's gift of gab and kind ways endeared him to the Medford sports community and allowed him to gain the trust of local athletes and coaches.

And while Jewett wasn't the fanciest of writers, one always knew where he stood. He focused on the positive, just as he did in his everyday life, but he wasn't afraid to fire off an occasional barb if he thought it was warranted. He once lambasted a group of Grants Pass High School football fans for failing to toss back a ball that a Medford High punter had inadvertently kicked into the stands during a Friday night game.

Jewett covered Medford High sports — there was only one high school in town back then — as if it were high school football in Texas. Features and game stories popped out of his Underwood typewriter daily, and folks always looked forward to his Monday "Fanfare" column.

When I researched Medford High's "Triple Crown" athletes of 1959-60 — the Black Tornado won state titles in football, basketball and baseball during the same school year — for a 40-year anniversary story that ran in 2000, I was struck by the number of compelling pieces that Jewett had chronicled. It made my job considerably easier.

Jewett also made my life more comfortable in my early days at the MT, when I was working part-time and money was tight. He loaned me his car when mine was in the shop, and he often had me over for dinner, probably knowing that I was subsisting on macaroni and cheese.

Jewett stepped aside as sports editor in the late 1970s and took on the MT's outdoor writing duties in addition to his regular writing load. He still put in long hours, but when he walked out the door for the last time in 1984, I was struck by how little he'd changed since the day I met him.

The affable man was still driving the same car, still wearing the same glasses and still had a full head of thick, jet-black hair, with nary a gray one in sight.

And he could still talk the legs off a coffee table.

Hunt, who worked at the Mail Tribune from 1975-2007, lives in Meridian, Idaho, where he works as a freelance writer and high school basketball coach. He can be reached at

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