James and Susan (Bassett) Hetherington, BA’53
(Originally published in 2010; James Hetherington was inducted into the Indiana Journalism Hall of Fame in 2014 and died later that year.)
It’s been 62 years since Susan Bassett Hetherington came to IU as a student in the High School Journalism Institute, and 57 years since she and her husband, Jim, graduated from the School of Journalism in 1953. Their son, Robert, followed in his parents’ footsteps, earning his journalism degree in 1977.
The couple’s decades-long ties to the school led them to establish the James and Susan Hetherington Scholarship and, more recently, to fund the installation of a display celebrating the centennial of the school. The display — a timeline depicting key moments in the school’s history — occupies the wall outside the auditorium in Ernie Pyle Hall, visible to the hundreds of students who pass daily through that second floor corridor.
Susan Hetherington hopes that in these days of instantaneous communication, the timeline will give students pause as they contemplate the history and achievements of the school and its alumni. The Hetheringtons were part of the post-war John Stempel/Gretchen Kemp era, when Ernie Pyle was still a living memory for many. Jim was editor-in-chief of the Indiana Daily Student during his senior year, and Sue was a reporter and columnist, initiating the “500 Fever” column about the first Little 500 race.
Jim went on to work for the Louisville Times, the Indianapolis Times and WFBM radio and television. He moved to public relations in 1974, becoming public relations director and vice president for corporate communications for American United Life Insurance Co. in Indianapolis. Susan became executive director of Prevent Blindness Indiana and of Goodwill Industries of Central Indiana.
Susan says the two have stayed in touch over the years with their fellow journalism alumni in Indiana and elsewhere. “It really was such a good crowd,” she says.
The timeline, she says, “will help build the respect and enthusiasm of current students to see what has happened over the years, so that they have maybe a little greater appreciation for where they may go in the future.”