PORTLAND — Former Sun Journal Executive Editor Rex Rhoades was inducted into the Maine Press Association Hall of Fame Saturday.

Two other journalists were also inducted: Hugh Bowden, who retired in August after a career in Down East Maine newspapers that spanned more than 50 years; and Steve Solloway, one of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram’s best-known writers, after 25 years as a sports columnist.

The MPA Hall of Fame, established in 1998, honors newspaper people with Maine connections who have made outstanding contributions to the profession, according to the MPA website.

The induction ceremony was held during MPA’s annual fall conference.

“Rex has made such a tremendous impact on the Sun Journal and in the community,” said Maureen Wedge, vice president of human resources for Sun Media Group. “He was always looking for ways to improve the newspaper and better connect with our readers. We were so fortunate to have such an extraordinary leader working with us over the past 20 years.”

In accepting the award, Rhoades thanked Sun Media Group owners, the Costello family, for their support, saying the Sun Journal has “always been a place of hard work, good journalism and laughter.”

He also thanked his wife, Luanne, for her support throughout his career and her willingness to pick up and establish a new life for their family in four different locations as his career advanced.

Rhoades retired in April after 19 years as executive editor of the Sun Journal in Lewiston, and a total of four decades in journalism. Under his leadership, the Sun Journal was the MPA’s Daily Newspaper of the Year five times, and Weekend Newspaper of the Year eight times.

The paper has also won a number of Publick Occurrences Awards from the New England Newspaper Association for superior accomplishment in journalism.

Rhoades was named MPA’s Journalist of the Year in 1999, honored for his leadership on the prize-winning “Bates & Beyond” project that analyzed the future of the Bates Mill at a time when voters were being asked to approve further development there. The award also recognized his leadership in redesigning the Sun Journal, his editorial- and column-writing, and his willingness to bring legal challenges over open-meeting law issues.

He served as president of the Maine Press Association from 2002-03, leading the association’s push for reforms to the state’s Freedom of Access Act.

Since that time, Rhoades led a number of award-winning newsroom projects, including an investigation into Gov. Paul LePage’s interference with unemployment hearing officers at the Department of Labor, and an investigation into a directive at the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention to destroy financial documents to evade a FOAA request from the Sun Journal.

In 2007, on behalf of the staff, he accepted a national award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers for “Seeing Green,” a multi-part project analyzing and comparing Maine’s papermaking industry with the industry in Brazil.

Rhoades was also well-recognized for his editorial- and column-writing, including a top MPA award in 2014 for an editorial exploring the impact of gun possession, the rights of those who carry them and those who are frightened when they see others openly carrying in public places.

Rhoades became editor of the Sun Journal in 1997 after 18 years at the Sandusky Register in Ohio.

Fellow inductee Solloway came to Maine in 1975 to be the sports editor of the Kennebec Journal and joined the Portland newspapers in 1984, reporting and commenting on sports in the central Maine area for the Maine Sunday Telegram. He covered some of Maine’s biggest sporting events and personalities over four decades.

He retired early this year.

Bowden retired in August after a career in Down East Maine newspapers that spanned more than 50 years.

He started in journalism in 1964 at The Weekly Packet in Blue Hill, filling roles as editor, editorial and sports writing and mentor to many journalists who worked with him. He was executive editor of The Ellsworth American from 1989 to 2015.

In addition to Rhoades, Sun Media Group journalists in the MPA Hall of Fame include Barbara Yeaton, inducted in 2001; Daniel Dexter, inducted in 2003; Polly Ouimet, inducted in 2008; and James Costello Sr., inducted in 2009.


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