Paul H. Jess

Paul H. Jess, professor emeritus of journalism, died Thursday, Oct. 22, at Presbyterian Manor in Lawrence. He was 83.

Professor Jess was born July 31, 1932, at home in Galva, Iowa, to Fred “Doc” and Alida Jess. The youngest of four children, he and his brothers all were involved with newspapers from young ages.

He was corporal in the Army Infantry in the Korean War and also worked on Pacific Stars and Stripes. He met Jan Hurt, his future wife, upon return from the service – she and her family had moved in next door to the Jess family home in Rock Rapids, Iowa. They married on June 1, 1956, in Iowa City. She survives.

A 1950 graduate of Rock Rapids High School, he attended the University of Iowa on the GI Bill and earned bachelors and masters degrees in journalism. He and his wife moved to Brookings, S.D., in 1959 so he could join the journalism faculty at South Dakota State University. He later completed his doctorate at the University of Minnesota.

He taught at the University of Michigan from 1970-76 and joined the faculty at the William Allen White School of Journalism and Mass Communications in 1976. He retired from KU in 1996. During his time at the journalism school, he served as general manager of the University Daily Kansan, chair of the news-editorial sequence and associate dean. He taught media law, advanced reporting and advanced editing.

He loved his family, language, cocker spaniels, big band music and good beer. He demanded excellence from his students but also encouraged laughter in the classroom and newsroom. While at KU, he taught at least five students who later wrote or edited Pulitzer Prize-winning stories and series.

Other survivors include son Jim, his wife, Trish, and son, Eliot, all of Lawrence; son David and his partner, Debbie Pentecost, both of Bellingham, Wash.; and daughter, Jill, her husband, John Phythyon Jr., son, Aidan, daughter, Alida, all of Columbus, Ohio, and stepdaughter, Onna of Lawrence.

A lifelong supporter of higher education and research, Professor Jess donated his body to the University of Kansas Medical Center.

No service is planned at this time. The family suggests donations in his name to Douglas County Hospice, 200 Maine St., Suite C, Lawrence, KS 66044; Lawrence Presbyterian Manor,; or the John Bremner Editing Center, reference Fund #39750.


4 Condolences

  1. Brenda Gadd on October 22, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    Jill..Your Dad was so much fun and so eager to help others. He was made of good stuff.

  2. Allison Lippert on October 22, 2015 at 6:30 pm

    Prof. Jess was one of the best teachers I ever had. He made me want to be the best copy editor I could be. I wouldn’t trade my time in his classroom for anything. My editing notebook from his class is one of my treasured items.

  3. Debbie pentecost on October 23, 2015 at 6:16 am

    Death leaves pain
    No one can heal
    Love leaves memories
    No one can steal

  4. Tim Orel on October 23, 2015 at 10:34 am

    I enjoyed the years knowing the family. I knew him as the father of the family of friends in Junior High, High School and all the years since. May peace be with the family. I’ll see if I can find a trivia game to play in his honor, since that was an activity we enjoyed together.

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