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Apr-08-2012 16:05printcomments

Gridley, Ready to Fire on Command, Sir!

Remembering our Op-Ed writer Henry Clay Ruark, who was part of our team from day one.

Henry Clay Ruark
Henry Clay Ruark

(SALEM) - Henry Clay Ruark was one of Salem-News.com's original writers and staff members from our earliest time. There aren't many people in that original group today; Glen Bledsoe, Lela Taylor, David Duncan, Matt , Lee Coyne and I are about it. Hank was an original man, he walked his own road based on what he believed was right, and he thought about the greater public welfare at all times.

In his life Henry was a newspaper reporter; educational and audio-visual media specialist; agency, institution, corporate public information officer; national trade magazine publisher and editor; and Chicago-based communications media consultant for agency, institution, individual and corporate clients.

Splitting careers between journalism and education, he wrote and worked for many newspapers while continuing in educational assignments. He has taught at every level; from grades to graduate school, agency/institution seminars, and corporate conferences. He wrote, edited and produced both print and visual learning media in all formats, and wrote for weeklies, dailies, newsletters, journals and magazines.

At 94, Hank was still writing ”on assignment” and generating a flow of articles for our editors, working for years as the Salem-News.com Op-Ed writer, as he served in this same capacity for decades with other news organizations.

Hank was registered as a Democrat, but said he disregarded any and all political-party disciplinary or bias for “the precious independence demanded as foundation for professional reporting”. He insisted that one cannot be Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, Independent, any more than one can be four-legged and two-faced. Probing, controversial, confirmed conversation (read:”honest, open, democratic dialog”) demands writer be independent, Hank firmly believed.

View articles written by Henry Clay Ruark

In March 2007, I wrote the article: Salem-News Writer is a Patriarch Among Oregon Journalists. The article in its entirety is included below:

Mar-22-2007 19:22

Salem-News Writer is a Patriarch Among Oregon Journalists

Tim King Salem-News.com

While Henry Clay Ruark will continue to write stories for Salem-News.com from Central Oregon.

Henry Clay Ruark in the mid-40's
Henry Clay Ruark in the mid-40's

(SALEM) - Salem-News viewers are familiar with the name, Henry Clay Ruark, his name is known throughout Oregon in many media circles. Hank as he is more generally known to us, has been contributing opinion/editorial articles here for more than two years.

You see, at the age of 89, Hank is a patriarch among journalists in this state; his son Jeremy operates a radio newsroom in Bend, Oregon, while his other son Loren works as a main point man at Eugene's KVAL TV.

Back in the early 1990's when I was the News Director of Oregon coastal radio stations KCRF and KBCH, Jeremy was with Salem's AM station KBZY and we competed fiercely for the 1991 Oregon Associated Press Cooperation Award by providing news stories to the rest of Oregon via the AP.

Loren is Hank's son who has major mileage with the local news industry in Oregon. Today Loren shoots and sets up live shots for KVAL in Eugene. When I worked as photojournalist/reporter for Portland's ABC affiliate KATU Channel-2, Loren helped me countless times in the field on Salem stories that Portland and Eugene both covered.

Loren is the only TV news guy I've ever known who has his name painted on the side of his live truck. It reminds me of the nose art on a WWII bomber.

With almost nine decades of life under his belt, Henry Clay Ruark is living history. He is young at heart though, and he easily belies his age with an appearance and spirit of a younger man.

What impresses me the most is Hank's value system. He never became stale in his thought process, he never aged in the wrong ways, and he always places a special emphasis in getting the details right and crediting his sources.

"Op-Eds published in Salem-News are specially researched and thoroughly documented to bring you the best possible summary of realities directly affecting you, as we see them."

One interesting development is Henry's relocation to Bend, Oregon where he will reestablish the operation he has been at the wheel of for many years, Learning Management Associates.

He is joining son Jeremy --corporate news director for Combined Communications there-- in a single-level residence with office space for further LMA activities and Op-Ed reports for Salem-News.

While Hank will continue to write stories for Salem-News.com about the Oregon Legislature, he will also diversify our coverage of the state by living in Central Oregon.

His sometimes controversial "Opinion" pieces will continue, resuming next week. Watch for his next Op-Ed transmitted on Wednesday. _____________

---story ends---

The 'Gridley' connection

Hank used to jokingly call me 'Gridley' in our frequent email communication and it would usually end with something like, 'Aye aye sir, Gridley is at the gun and ready!' and to be honest, I always only vaguely knew the historical reference! I believe Hank referred to it once on the phone in early conversations, and then 'Gridley' and "ready to fire sir" became locked into place... this is what happens when you work with a person who has watched the modern world that we know develop in real time. Born in 1917- Hank was the same age as my dad who I lost several years ago. This Great Generation knew real hardship, they witnessed a Holocaust, so many human mistakes and triumphs.

    "You may fire when you are ready Gridley."
    Commodore George Dewey, 1 May 1898, at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War. The American squadron entered Manila Bay and took fire from the Spanish fleet, anchored under the guns of Cavite, for half an hour until in the position Dewey wanted. Then Dewey addressed his order to Charles Gridley, captain of Dewey's flagship Olympia.
    [Dewey, George. Autobiography of George Dewey, Admiral of the Navy. (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1913) 214.]

What happened was that I developed the sign off '-G' for Gridley and for a long time, years... I did not use my name when communicating with Hank, only '-G'.

It reached the point a few weeks ago, that Hank needed to clarify that he was indeed talking to me... It was one of the only things that may have shown his age in our thousands of emails and even then, I think anyone may have wanted to eventually pin that down, as email is faceless communication and we never bothered with '-G' on the phone.

I wrote this in February:


    It is always me Tim, but the G~ thing might have run its course, however I will always respond to Gridley if need be sir!

    I am so glad that fit so well, as I said previously your articles have been bold and snapping out lately, and then Bonnie published that new piece about 29 Feb, an event that day in conjunction with Occupy, and the main thing are ALEC politicians!

    Thanks so much,


Hank's response was rich with character, he references another writer in Oregon we have carried, Richard Reid:

    Hey, Tim !

               My growling-ID/SIR hinted at retiring Gridley...he's too deep in that Brit-beer now. But he served well and allowed us a little off-pressure now and again... Remember, we met him in battle on deck --and ready to fire !

               Deeeeelighted you are deeeelighted about ALEC frontline/fire (with Gridley manning gun !) and believe we got more to do yet...RR and I discussing. IF we continue for next session we gonna get some solid backfire from corporate sources and they play real dirty as you know. We may have to recruit Grid and others and set up a real gun turret or two for protection and I do mean protection...

               moresoon and I'm relieved to find Gridley embodied with your other self. Tim....appreciate the great qualities of each of you and esp. those relating to S-N...


Then when I published what I believe was Hank's last article, he wrote:

    Tim & G.:

               I love that Whisnant line....was that a previous headline from me, or did you just write it there out of pure inspiration ?

               In any case, it sure opens the door now for another look at his whole career, which from audiovisual training specialty in college on until his retirement oddly parallels mine own stumbles in the private sector...but without the happy-pension/ending !

               NOW I can do another shot, making much of his close "cooperative" effort throughout his Pentagon years to move in tight-synch with corporate producers for av equipment across the whole Army effort.

               Without saying it right out can make it look like it hadda/be --hand in hand to move equipment by 1,000-project order at a time...even if he had somebody else fronting for purchase, it hadda/be HI final decision, given that kind of command and the length in which he ran that whole Army show...

                Must remember to work in title given him by OCCUPY workers: Corporate Legislator of Year 2012

               So thanks for rapid action in getting this one up...we already sent it to every legislator in RR's last packet --which makes that Whisnant-line stand out and up that much more when they check on it in S-N, which I'm informed from several sources has taken to happening.


Hank Ruark nailed it many times, he had a deep, profound understanding of politics and their interaction with humanity in the real application. His enemies were very real and they are politicians who absolutely hated the way this writer exposed the very last things they wanted aired. Too bad he didn't just get here, even at 94 Hank put fear into the greedy corrupt forces that sadly, have all too much to do with the current picture.

Rest in peace Hank!



Tim King in 2008, covering the Iraq War

Tim King: Salem-News.com Editor and Writer

Tim King has more than twenty years of experience on the west coast as a television news producer, photojournalist, reporter and assignment editor. In addition to his role as a war correspondent, this Los Angeles native serves as Salem-News.com's Executive News Editor. Tim spent the winter of 2006/07 covering the war in Afghanistan, and he was in Iraq over the summer of 2008, reporting from the war while embedded with both the U.S. Army and the Marines. Tim is a former U.S. Marine.

Tim holds awards for reporting, photography, writing and editing, including the Silver Spoke Award by the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (2011), Excellence in Journalism Award by the Oregon Confederation of Motorcycle Clubs (2010), Oregon AP Award for Spot News Photographer of the Year (2004), First-place Electronic Media Award in Spot News, Las Vegas, (1998), Oregon AP Cooperation Award (1991); and several others including the 2005 Red Cross Good Neighborhood Award for reporting. Tim has several years of experience in network affiliate news TV stations, having worked as a reporter and photographer at NBC, ABC and FOX stations in Arizona, Nevada and Oregon. Tim was a member of the National Press Photographer's Association for several years and is a current member of the Orange County Press Club.

Serving the community in very real terms, Salem-News.com is the nation's only truly independent high traffic news Website. As News Editor, Tim among other things, is responsible for publishing the original content of 102 Salem-News.com writers. He reminds viewers that emails are easily missed and urges those trying to reach him, to please send a second email if the first goes unanswered. You can write to Tim at this address: tim@salem-news.com. Visit Tim's Facebook page (facebook.com/TimKing.Reporter)

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Ken Ramey April 10, 2012 4:48 pm (Pacific time)

Sorry to hear of Hank's death.= I would have liked to meet him, but it didn't work out. He lived a long and good life. We all should be so lucky.

Tim King: I think you would have been great friends Ken, no doubt about it.

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