Bill Frank, legendary journalist
Has there ever been a better marriage between a newspaper reporter and a state than Bill Frank and Delaware? Probably not. And more than likely we’ll never see such a relationship in the future. William P. Frank was a columnist, editor, actor, radio commentator, enthusiastic Delaware historian, devoted scholar of Judaism, lifelong student of Shakespeare, and unrelenting champion of the rights of prisoners, migrant workers, mental patients, and racial and religious minorities. But as his News Journal colleague Harry Themal said in tribute, “Mr. Frank always preferred to be called a reporter.” Bill Frank began his newspaper career in 1922 as a $10-a-week copy boy on The Morning News. He died as a columnist emeritus for The News Journal in 1989. In between he chased after fires and crimes as all reporters do. But in his writings he celebrated what he saw as Delaware’s glories and denounced its failings. He campaigned tirelessly against Delaware’s hangings, whipping post, antiquated treatment of the mentally ill and its sorry segregationist ways. That earned him some enemies. But in the end, it also earned him a lot of fans and a cherished spot in Delaware history.