Fred Sievers · 1986
When Fred Sievers, a working journalist for 29 years and chief of The Evansville Press’ Capital Bureau in Indianapolis for the last 10, retired, one of his final-day duties was to show his replacement, Tom Wyman, around the statehouse.
Sievers dutifully took Wyman around, introducing him to all the right people. As Wyman later recalled, “Almost everyone he introduced me to had the same thing to say: ‘Retire! You can’t do that! Who’s going to answer all my gardening questions now?'”
Sievers was not only a gardening hobbyist, but a gardening columnist, something he still does on a weekly basis for The Evansville Press even though he has been officially “retired” since October of 1980.
But all of Sievers’ friends were being facetious that day. What he was really known for was his insightful reporting on Indiana politics and government. His work was so well known in those areas that in 1978 the Indiana State Bar Association named him the first winner of the First Amendment Award; 11 years before that, the Evansville Bar Association awarded him the James Bethel Gresham Freedom Award for coverage of Vanderburgh County government, the courts and an 11-part series called “You and the Law.”
Born near Owensboro, Ky., the son of a rural doctor, Sievers decided to become a newspaper reporter instead of following in his father’s footsteps. He cut his journalistic teeth at the University of Kentucky, fought for his country in World War II, and worked on newspapers in Newport News, Va., and Owensboro before joining The Press in Evansville in 1949.
On the day he retired, several of the six editors he had worked under in his 29 years at The Press spoke of his long and distinguished career. One of them, William Burleigh, now general editorial manager of all Scripps Howard newspapers, had this to say:
“He is one of the finest reporters I ever worked with. He is a combination of thoughtfulness and scholarliness on one hand and uncanny news instincts on the other. I have never seen an equal to Fred on legal affairs.”
That, alone, speaks well for his entry into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame.