Dr. Jesse Dale Thorn, 71, a retired journalism professor from LSU whose professional career also included stints working for newspapers as well as serving as former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards’ first press secretary, passed away Thursday May 8, 2014 at Hospice Ministries in Ridgeland, Miss., following a lengthy illness. Visitation will be held on Tuesday, May 13, 2014 from 5 p.m. until the 6 p.m. Memorial Service at Ott & Lee Funeral Home in Brandon, Miss.
A native of McComb, Miss., Dale spent his formative years in West Monroe, where he graduated from Ouachita Parish High School in 1960. Dale enlisted in the Marine Corps following high school and was honorably discharged after serving for four years. Dale held an undergraduate degree from then-Northeast Louisiana University and earned a master’s degree in journalism from LSU. He later earned a PhD in higher education administration from Florida State University in Tallahassee.
Dale’s newspaper career began at the Monroe (La.) Morning World where he reported about government and politics, including covering the Louisiana Legislature as the capital bureau reporter. Later, he was named an editor at the Morning World’s sister newspaper, The Shreveport (La.) Times. The Ewing family owned the Monroe and Shreveport newspapers then.
Dale went to work for Edwards as his press secretary when Edwards was elected to Congress in the 1960s and held that same position under Edwards for much of his first two terms as governor.
Following his tenure under Edwards, Dale went to work for the Louisiana Board of Regents where he rose to associate commissioner for higher education. While with the Board of Regents, Dale was instrumental in helping resolve a conflict between the State of Louisiana and the U.S. Department of Justice over the desegregation of higher education in Louisiana.
Later, at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, La., Dale served as vice president for academic affairs. Dale’s next move took him back to Baton Rouge to LSU where he taught journalism and eventually was named professional in residence and holder of an endowed scholarship at LSU’s Manship School of Mass Communication. He also taught public relations at LSU. Dale retired from LSU in 2000 and moved to Brandon where he has lived the past 15 years until his death.
Dale was a Baptist in his faith, was an accomplished author, and he loved history and music.
He is survived by his brother, Truett N. Thorn (Brenda); three cousins, Annie Merle Washington, Dorothy Biggs and Bobbie Dilmore. He is also survived by many friends and colleagues.
The family wishes in place of flowers that any donations please be made to the National Parkinson Foundation at P.O. Box 450, Huntington Valley, PA 19006 (Phone Number: 1-800-947-6658). To visit our online guest register book please go to ottandleefuneralhome.com.