GSPA Reflection: First of Many Speeches

By Dick Yarbrough (ABJ ‘59)

At my ripe old age, I cannot estimate the number of speeches I have made over my career.  It would run somewhere in the high hundreds or maybe a thousand.  I have made a lot of speeches to a lot of audiences on a lot of subjects. But I will never forget my first one.  It was to the Georgia Scholastic Press Association.

Dick Yarbrough

Dick Yarbrough

I had attended a GSPA meeting as the editor of my high school newspaper, the Russell Wildcat, at the Henry W. Grady School of Journalism which was at the time co-located with the business school and known as the C-J Building.  It was then and there that my appetite was whetted by the thoughts of becoming a journalist.

Four years later, I graduated from the University of Georgia with my ABJ degree and joined WSB Radio in Atlanta.  Only one year out of college, I received a call from Dean John E. Drewry asking me to be one of the speakers at the upcoming meeting of the GSPA, along with Don Schanche, a correspondent with the Los Angeles Times and an earlier graduate of the Grady College.  I was equal parts stunned and honored and determined to validate the dean’s selection.

I have never worked longer or harder on a speech than that one.  Today, I cannot recall what I said or how well it was received.  I only know that the GSPA was as important to the Grady School of Journalism then as it is to the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communications today and I was determined not to let Dean Drewry down.

I have been blessed with a wonderful career beyond anything I would have imagined when I was a student at Grady.  I like to think it all started with a speech to the Georgia Scholastic Press Association, thanks to a dean saw something in me that I had not seen in myself. 

A Grady College graduate of the Class of 1959, Dick Yarbrough is an award-winning syndicated columnist. Read his work at

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