Fred “Duane” Dailey was an icon in the agricultural journalism field. He was a friend and mentor of mine at the University of Missouri-Columbia.
I am sad to have learned that Duane passed away at Boone County Hospital in Columbia on March 10. He was age 84.
As a student at MU, I was fortunate to have learned from him. Being in my early 30s and returning to college, Duane gave me advice and encouragement that were keys to my success. I also got to clean his office and empty the trash once a week in Whitten Hall, where I spent four plus years working as a custodian while taking classes during the day.
And even after I graduated from MU, he sent me a letter and story sample to the North English Record, where I worked at the time, with tips on doing a photo story on a rural mail carrier. I had expressed an interest in such a story and he wanted to help make it happen.
Duane was a master photographer and has guided many young budding photojournalists through the years. In the early 1980s, he traveled all over the state of Missouri documenting, interviewing and photographing more than 100 people who raised, used and cared for mules. I often marveled at his photographic work and his ability to tell a story with a single image. It’s like a writer who puts one word on the page and you want more.
According to his obit, which he wrote himself a few years ago, Duane graduated from MU agricultural journalism program in 1959 and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army from the MU ROTC program. He became an artillery officer at Ft. Sill, Okla., during officers basic training. He was then assigned to be a public information officer at Richards-Gebaur AFB, Grandview, Mo. He was PIO (public information officer) for two years for the North American Army Air Defense Command (missile artillery defending the heartland with Nike missiles). The School of Journalism connection secured the job.
At the end of his tour, he was offered a job back at MU by his adviser, Richard Lee, head of Agricultural and Extension Information. He covered 4-H news the first years before taking on reporting on the MU Extension Balanced Farming program.
Early, Dick Lee allowed Duane to enroll in the Missouri Photo Workshop founded by photojournalism education pioneer Cliff Edom of the MU School of Journalism.
That changed his career to an emphasis on reporting with a camera.
Later, he founded a version of the MPW for the American Agricultural Editors Association, the farm magazine group. That weeklong workshop for mid-career journalists ran for 11 years, with cooperation of top ag photographers and Cliff Edom.
Then he was invited by Edom to the MPW, where he had started as a student. When Cliff and Vi Edom retired, they asked Bill Kuykendall, head of the MU photojournalism sequence at the time, and Duane to be co-directors. He did that for 15 years, after serving on the MPW faculty.
In 2007, Duane was named to the Missouri Photojournalism Hall of Fame. Thirteen years ago, Duane received an Alumni Citation of Merit award by the MU ag alumni association.
His column, Hometown Boy, appeared in five weekly papers. That column ran weekly with only three misses in more than 20 years.
There is so much more I could write about Duane. He did so much for so many and my life is better because of his impact.
Duane is one of many mentors who have crossed my life path. Some have been ministers, counselors, friends, family and even co-workers.
Mentors in my life have taught me to believe in myself, to trust God, to push past barriers (natural and manmade) and to not give up.
We all should be mentors. We have so much to offer, to give and it all starts with a step. Something as simple as a kind note of thanks or a word of encouragement can help someone through a tough spot in life.
The world needs people who care, who love and who want to make life better for others. You are needed, especially in the face of COVID-19. You are important and have something to offer to those who need an encouraging word or some direction. A kind word may be the key that helps someone get through all that is going on in the world. Keep your head up and keep moving.
Have a great week and take care of yourself, my friends. And always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” every day and always.
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