No. 1316



The task I have today is not an enviable one. I want to pay tribute to a very special and long-time friend by the name of Dr. C. Dennis Schick. For 25 years (1979 - 2004), Dennis was executive director of the Arkansas Press Association, and he helped me in my career more than any other human being on the face of the earth. He died on Monday, Dec. 7, 2020, and left a legacy that will be honored and revered for many years to come. I will always be grateful to him.
Dennis came to our state press association after teaching full time for 15 years at three major universities: the University of Texas, Southern Illinois University and Texas Christian University. He earned a bachelor of arts in journalism and English from TCU; a master’s degree in advertising and marketing from the University of Illinois; and a doctorate in mass communications and marketing from SIU.
Dennis and his wife Jan were a team and worked side by side for all those years, managing a staff, having an annual State Press Convention, putting out a weekly newsletter and taking care of the needs for more than 120 newspapers across the state. One of the things he will always be remembered for is moving the association office from a small house on Broadway in Little Rock, to their present location at 411 Victory, only four blocks from our state Capitol. This current building was large enough to meet their needs and have rental income as well.
It was his nature to help people, and the two of us hit it off back in 1995, soon after I started my weekly column. As an associate member, I received the annual directory that contained all the information about member newspapers. This directory helped me in making contacts and getting me acquainted with many other state press directors. Each state had a directory, and I would use this concept to contact papers in other states. In time, the list of papers running my column would grow to more than 375 papers in 35 states.
Dennis was a great family man, having three children, and was very active in his church, including singing in the choir. Each Sunday morning he could be found lifting his voice to the Lord. After his retirement we would remain friends, and quite often I would drive from Conway to Little Rock and take him to lunch. He was also most helpful when I founded the Conway Bookcase Project in 2005. For the first three years, before we started the annual Bookcase Literacy Banquet to raise the money for building materials, we came up with an idea to publish a book of my columns, sell the book and use the money to build bookcases.
When we decided to do this, Dennis secured the help of 12 award-winning journalists from all across the nation to read the more than 350 columns that I had written at this time and choose those to go in the book. The idea worked, and we raised the money to build 50 bookcases each year to help pre-school children in low-income families. Later, when we started having our annual Awards Ceremony to present the bookcases at the Faulkner County Library, Dennis came one year to be our guest speaker. He would also write the Preface for my next book.
I might add the idea to publish the book came from another press director friend, Carolyn Wilson from Mississippi. I would never have known Carolyn had it not been for Dennis. You can see now why I wanted to pay tribute to him. He was a rare person who always went the extra mile, and I will always be grateful to him. We need more Dennis Schicks in this world.
(Editor’s Note: Jim Davidson is an author, public speaker, syndicated columnist and Founder of the Bookcase for Every Child project. Since its inception in 1995, Jim’s column has been self-syndicated to over 375 newspapers in 35 states making it one of the most successful in the history of American journalism.)