Dignitaries set to pay tribute to Al Neuharth on May 17 at USD

Al Neuharth and Don Hewitt share a light moment during a press conference held in the Al Neuharth Media Center on the USD campus on the afternoon of Sept. 30, 2004. That evening, Neuharth presented Hewitt with the Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in Journalism. (Photo by David Lias)

Al Neuharth and Don Hewitt share a light moment during a press conference held in the Al Neuharth Media Center on the USD campus on the afternoon of Sept. 30, 2004. That evening, Neuharth presented Hewitt with the Al Neuharth Award for Excellence in Journalism. (Photo by David Lias)

VERMILLION – Prominent officials, journalists, colleagues, friends, and others inspired by his vision and legacy will celebrate the life of South Dakota native Al Neuharth during a public tribute, 10 a.m., Friday, May 17, at the University of South Dakota.

Neuharth, founder of SoDak Sports, USA TODAY, Freedom Forum and the Newseum, died at his Cocoa Beach, Fla., home on April 19. He was 89. Neuharth, a 1950 USD alumnus, was a frequent visitor to South Dakota in his later years. Because of his appreciation for the state, its people and their free spirit, he directed that this “final celebration” take place at USD.

The memorial celebration at Slagle Hall Aalfs Auditorium includes remarks from the Neuharth family; U.S. Sen. John Thune, R-S.D.; columnist and USD alumna Marilyn Hagerty, who was Neuharth’s first editor in 1948; USD President James W. Abbott; journalist Mary Hudetz, vice president of the Native American Journalists Association; and Chris Jessen, an Al Neuharth Scholar at USD who followed in Neuharth’s footsteps as editor of USD’s Volante.  There also will be tributes from Ruth Ziolkowski, CEO of the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation, and NBC’s Tom Brokaw, a 1964 USD alumnus. Jack Marsh, president of the Al Neuharth Media Center, is master of ceremonies for the event, which will feature the “Freedom Sings” band of Nashville, Tenn.

Doors to Aalfs Auditorium will open at 9 a.m. A live webcast of the memorial celebration will be streamed by South Dakota Public Broadcasting at www.sdpb.org/live beginning 10 a.m. CDT, May 17. SDPB will record the event for a statewide broadcast, 3 p.m. CDT, Sunday, May 19.

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