By: Martin Griffith, Associated Press Writer
(AP) Rollan Melton, a columnist, editor, publisher, and Gannett executive whose Nevada newspaper career spanned 55 years, died early Sunday after a long heart-related illness. He was 70.
Since 1978, Melton has written about 4,000 columns for the Reno Gazette-Journal. His column in Sunday’s paper was typical, touching on subjects about everyday Nevadans.
“He captured the spirit and personality of Nevadans,” Gov. Kenny Guinn said. “Truly one of the highest honors anyone could receive was to be named a quotable Nevadan in Rollan Melton’s column.”
Melton was born in Boise, Idaho, and grew up in Fallon, 60 miles east of Reno. His journalism career began at age 15 at the Fallon Standard.
“Rollan Melton was truly the people’s newspaperman,” said Warren Lerude, former publisher of the Reno Gazette-Journal and a University of Nevada, Reno, journalism professor. “He cared about all people, all kinds of people. He wrote about them with genuine conviction and care.”
After a two-year stint in the Army, the UNR graduate joined the Reno Evening Gazette as a sports editor in 1957.
He became publisher of both the Gazette and Nevada State Journal in 1966, and vice president of the Speidel newspaper group that included the Reno papers in 1969. Three years later, he became Speidel’s president.
After Speidel merged with the Gannett newspaper chain in 1977, Melton was named senior vice president of Gannett’s western division and a Gannett board member.
He resigned the executive post in 1979, but remained on the board of directors and continued to write his column.
“Rollie was a well-prepared director who contributed a great deal of insight at board meetings,” John J. Curley, former chairman and CEO of Gannett Co. Inc., told the Gazette-Journal. “He really enjoyed writing his column and made a lasting contribution in this way.”
He is survived by his wife, four children, and 16 grandchildren. Funeral arrangements were pending, and a public memorial service was expected to be held next week.