In PVA’s 75-year history, there have only been seven editors
It was mid-afternoon on the first Sunday in February when a text came in on my cellphone. It was from a former Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) employee who had just met and was speaking with a person who had a very interesting connection with our organization dating back decades.
The former PVA employee was wearing a PVA hat at an event taking place in Seal Beach, Calif. The hat caught the attention of a woman who lived in the area. She approached him and asked, “Have you heard of PN magazine?” To which, he replied, “Of course! I even know the editor.”
This is when things really got interesting. She said PN magazine used to be published in her living room. It turns out she was Robert “Bob” Webb’s daughter-in-law and now lives in his house in Seal Beach. I called to speak with her and found out she has memorabilia from Bob’s time as PN editor. I’m hoping to make a trip to Seal Beach sometime soon to have lunch with her.
She was surprised to hear that there’s a PVA national award named in honor of Bob and expressed an interest in learning more. The Bob Webb Excellence in a Newsletter Award was created after he passed away in 1978, and we’re in the process of reviewing submissions for this year’s award as I’m writing this column.
The PVA Administrative Guide’s award description states, “This award was created by PVA’s Board of Directors to honor Robert L. Webb, who for many years served as editor of PN, and to recognize excellence in a chapter newsletter. The importance of the newsletter in fostering intra-organizational communication is without measure.”
And the award’s inscription reads, “This award is dedicated to the memory of Robert L. Webb, editor of the PN, in recognition of his years of professional excellence.” The committee that selects the award recipient is chaired by the PN editor, and it’s something I’ve truly looked forward to each year.
This chance meeting, call it a blast from the past, piqued my interest to learn more about Bob. The details of his military service and any PVA service other than that as editor still elude me. But I promise to keep digging. The editor position is a unique one in this organization. In PVA’s 75-year history, there have only been seven editors before me. This either means no one wants the job, or it’s so enjoyable that once you find yourself in the position, you simply never want to give it up.
I believe the latter to be true, as three of the longest-tenured editors — John Price (founding editor), Bob Webb and Cliff Crase — each passed away while serving in the position. The person who becomes editor is chosen by the PVA national president. That choice is then ratified by the PVA Board of Directors.
From 1946 until 1978, the publication moved to the city where the editor lived. The last time that occurred was when Bob passed away and the magazine moved to Phoenix, where Cliff resided.
During Cliff’s time as editor, the staff and size of the operation grew to the point that it necessitated making Phoenix the permanent home to PN and SPORTS ’N SPOKES magazines, both published by PVA.
When Richard Hoover took over as editor, he often commuted back and forth from Phoenix to his home in Hamilton, Mont., but he worked primarily from his home in view of Montana’s Bitterroot Mountains. I became the first editor to actually move myself and my family to the magazine’s headquarters.
It was a choice made easier since I was relocating from snowy Minnesota to the land of sun, pools and palm trees. Much has changed with the publications over the years, but one thing that remained the same was the feeling of honor felt by each of the now eight editors who have had the opportunity to serve in this position.