NORTHPORT, Maine — Former Bangor Daily News reporter Beurmond Banville, who covered the St. John Valley and northern Aroostook County for the paper for nearly 36 years, was inducted into the Maine Press Association Hall of Fame during a ceremony Saturday at the Point Lookout Resort.
Also inducted were the late David Bourque, former sports editor of The Times Record in Brunswick, and Seba Smith, who established Maine’s first daily newspaper, the Portland Courier, which he edited from 1830 to 1837.
The MPA Hall of Fame was established in 1998 to honor newspaper journalists with Maine connections who have made outstanding contributions to the profession. With the 2011 inductions, the hall of fame has 55 members.
“I want to tell you all I am in awe, even today, of being inducted into the MPA Hall of Fame,” said Banville, addressing a luncheon crowd of 100 journalists and family members of the inductees. “It means a lot to be honored by the people in your own profession.”
Bangor Daily News Editor-in-Chief Michael J. Dowd and Aroostook County reporter Jennifer Lynds presented the plaque signifying his induction to Banville, who retired from the paper in 2006. Both praised Banville for his dedication to covering the communities of the region and mentoring other BDN reporters.
Banville, who currently serves on the St. Agatha Board of Selectmen and the Executive Committee of the Maine Municipal Association, said over the years he filled 35 binders with clippings of every article he wrote for the Bangor Daily News. He donated the binders to the University of Maine at Fort Kent, his alma mater.
Over his career, Banville covered stories including the Allagash flood of 1990, labor unrest in the northern Maine woods and the arsenic poisoning cases in New Sweden. Working near the Canadian border gave him the opportunity to cover the queen of England’s two visits to Canada, a visit by Pope John Paul II and a summit in Quebec City with President Ronald Reagan and Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney.
“I want to thank all the editors who worked with me over the years. They made be look good,” said Banville, who also thanked several of his family members in attendance.
Other members of the MPA Hall of Fame from the BDN include: Ralph “Bud” Leavitt, Kent Ward, Lillis Towle Jordan, Ted Sylvester and Bob DeLong.
Bourque, who died in 2008, served as sports editor of The Times Record for 37 years. He “brought honor to the profession, and embodied the most enduring values of community journalism,” wrote Times Record Managing Editor Robert Long, who presented the induction plaque to Matt Bourque, son of the inductee.
Smith, who was born in Buckfield and graduated from Bowdoin College, began his career as editor of the Eastern Argus, a Portland weekly. His editorials in favor of Maine’s separation from Massachusetts are credited with advancing the cause of statehood. While at the Courier in the 1830s, Smith covered the Maine Legislature. In nominating Smith, former Maine Sunday Telegram editorial page editor and reporter Jim Brunelle wrote, “In many respects, modern political satire began with a Maine man — Seba Smith — one of our earliest newspapermen and one of our most influential writers.” Kennebec Journal Publisher and MPA President Anthony Ronzio and Ellsworth American Publisher Alan Baker spoke about Smith during the ceremony.
Meg Haskell, health editor of the Bangor Daily News and the 2010 Maine Journalist of the Year, gave the keynote address at the luncheon.