Vermont Connecticut Royster (April 30, 1914 - July 22, 1996) was the editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was honored with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He won two Pulitzer Prizes for his writing, and numerous other awards.
Although his life began and ended in Raleigh, North Carolina, the parts in between took him to the rest of the world. His distinctive names were the result of a family tradition of using the names of states for offspring, begun by his great grandfather.
After graduating from the University of North Carolina in 1935, Royster secured a job as a reporter for the New York City News Bureau, and a year later began his 61-year career with the Wall Street Journal.
His career at the Wall Street Journal was one of steady advancement: reporter, 1936;
Washington correspondent, 1936-40 and 1945-46 (lieutenant commander, U.S. Navy Reserve, 1940-45);
editorial writer and columnist, 1946-48;
associate editor, 1948-51;
senior associate editor, 1951-58;
contributing editor, columnist, 1971-96;
editor emeritus, 1993-96.
In 1953 Royster was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Editorial Writing.
He retired as Editor of the Wall Street Journal in 1971 and began writing his popular weekly column Thinking Things Over, which he continued until the handicaps of old age forced him to discontinue it in 1986.
He was awarded a second Pulitzer Prize, in 1984, for Distinguished Commentary.
After retirement from the Wall Street Journal, he became the Kenan Professor of Journalism and Public Affairs at the University of North Carolina.
When he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Ronald Reagan in 1986, the citation read:
- For over half a century, as a journalist, author, and teacher, Vermont Royster illuminated the political and economic life of our times. His common sense exploded the pretentions of "expert opinion," and his compelling eloquence warned of the evils of society loosed from its moorings in faith. The voice of the American people can be heard in his prose—honest, open, proud, and free.
Other awards he received include Distinguished Service Award, Sigma Delta Chi, 1958; William Allen White Award, University of Kansas, 1971; Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism, 1975; Elijah Lovejoy Award 1976; North Carolina Journalism Hall of Fame, 1980.
Several of the editorials he wrote are considered classics: The Desolate Wilderness along with And the Fair Land are now the Wall Street Journal's traditional Thanksgiving editorials, and In Hoc Anno Domini appears every Christmas.
He married Frances Claypoole in 1937. They had two daughters, Frances and Sara.
- Royster, Vermont C. (1967). A Pride of Prejudices. New York : Knopf. LCCN 67022219.
- Royster, Vermont C. (1983). My own, my country's time : a journalist's journey. Chapel Hill, N.C. : Algonquin Books. LCCN 83232385.
- Fuller, Edmund (1985). The essential Royster : a Vermont Royster reader. Chapel Hill, N.C. : Algonquin Books. LCCN 85001302.
Papers of Vermont Royster
Short Summary and Photo
Essay by Jennifer Cook