Tower-Soudan says goodbye to beloved newspaper editor

Published: Apr. 7, 2022 at 5:55 PM CDT
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A rare photo of Tower News editor Phyllis Burgess who did not like being photographed
A rare photo of Tower News editor Phyllis Burgess who did not like being photographed(Kristine Jonas)

TOWER, MN. (CBS 3 Duluth) -

The folks of Tower-Soudan laid one of their most legendary citizens to rest last weekend.

Dave Anderson tells us about Phyllis Burgess, the small town’s newspaper editor that kept people informed for

nearly three quarters of a century.

It’s said that the Tower News is Saint Louis County’s oldest newspaper north of Duluth.

It’s been around for close to 122 years. For 73 of those years, it was run by Phyllis Burgess.

“She was a wonderful writer, organized and new everybody in town and knew their positive sides and focused on that.” said

former Tower News writer Al Reller who also stated that running the Tower News with her husband Jim since 1947 meant that Phyllis also

was aware of less positive things. But those stayed out of the paper.

“She said if we could print this stuff we’d be done by noon but we couldn’t though she knew everybody’s secrets.” says Reller.

Burgess could type one hundred words a minute on a manual typewriter and go the same speed on the ancient Linotype printing

press the Tower News used to use. Phyllis’ cousin Mary Beth tells us the paper was life to her.

“Every birth, death and bit of news she just loved and made sure it was in the paper because it was part of our town.” said Mary Beth Reller.

I tried for 20 years to do a feature news story on Phyllis but the shy news editor always said no.

Last week, at the age of 96 about a year after retiring from The Tower News, Phyllis Burgess passed away and became the front

page story of her own paper and the subject of this TV news story. The people of Tower-Soudan will never forget her style.

“She never slowed down or gave into age or anything like that and I don’t remember her having a problem with memory loss or

anything; she always knew what to do, where to do it and get it done.” said Al Reller.

Getting the job done at the Tower News now is new editor Terry Carlson.

He says he knows he has a lot of work to do to earn the same reputation that Phyllis Burgess had.

Click above to watch the video story paying tribute to Phyllis Burgess

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