IHS Press author Earl L. Conn, 82, passed away Sunday, September 20, 2009 at Ball Memorial Hospital.
Conn, the author of two IHS Press books, My Indiana: 101 Places to See and My Indiana: 101 More Places to See, was born August 12, 1927 in Marion, Indiana, the son of Wayne and Mildred Conn. He graduated from Marion High School in 1945 and received a bachelor of arts from the University of Kentucky in 1950. He earned a master of arts degree from Ball State University in 1957 and a doctor of education degree from Indiana University in 1970.
Conn became a sportswriter for The Chronicle in Marion, Indiana, in 1943 while still in high school. In 1945 he joined the U.S. Navy and was a military staff writer from 1945 to 1946. After his service ended, he worked for United Press wire service in its Louisville bureau from 1950 to 1951. In 1951 his U.S. Air Force Reserve Unit was called to active duty and he served once again as a military staff writer from 1951 to 1952.
After completing this term of duty, Earl returned to Indiana to work at the Leader-Tribune in Marion as wire editor. In 1954 he began a high school teaching career at Somerset High School followed by Richmond High School. He joined the faculty at Ball State University in 1958, teaching journalism and English as well as advising the Orient yearbook. He resigned in 1962 to become full-time editor of Quaker Life magazine, a publication he helped found in 1960. In 1963 Conn returned to Ball State as assistant director of its Public Information Services before rejoining the faculty in 1965. During these years, he was also faculty adviser to the Daily News. He was named chair of the Department of Journalism in 1984, a position he held for twelve years. In 1996 he became the first Dean of the newly created College of Communication, Information, and Media and was inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame in 1997.
In 1998 Conn retired from Ball State as Dean Emeritus and returned to his writing career. He began an Indiana travel column, "Traveling Indiana," which has appeared in five Indiana newspapers. He has written six books, including Beneficence: Stories About the Ball Families of Muncie; essays for Painting Indiana; and a history of Ball State University's Administration Building. He also co-authored Effective Business Writing: Write Tight and Right. He wrote for a number of periodicals, including the Saturday Evening Post. As a reporter, one of the highlights of his career was attending and reporting on the March on Washington in August 1963 when Martin Luther King Jr. gave his "I Have A Dream" speech. Conn was one of the founders of the Midwest Writers Workshop and continued to play an integral role in it until his death.