Ernie Deane, who was emcee for the 1980 Northwest Arkansas Gridiron, died May 7, 1991, in Fayetteville after an illustrious career as an Arkansas journalist and historian. He was 79.
Ernie was born on October 29, 1911, in Lewisville to Ernest Deane, a railroad engineer, and Mabel Drew Deane. He attended public schools in Lewisville and Texarkana before coming to the University of Arkansas, where he was editor of the student newspaper, The Arkansas Traveler, and graduated in 1934. He earned a master’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University and worked a variety of journalism jobs before World War II. During the war, he enlisted and served as a press officer for Lt. Gen. Omar Bradley and Gen. Dwight Eisenhower before joining the Third Army as press officer for Gen. George S. Patton on the campaigns of Normandy, northern France, the Ardennes, the Rhineland, and central Germany. Ernie was awarded the Bronze Star and the French Croix de Guerre and was discharged as a lieutenant colonel. After the war, he then served as a liaison between the Army and the international press corps during the Nuremberg International Military Tribunal.
Post-war, he published the Mexia Daily News in Texas for six years, leaving it to start “The Arkansas Traveler” column for the Arkansas Gazette in 1955. In 1968, he returned to Fayetteville and taught journalism at the University of Arkansas for eight years. During that time, he began writing the “Ozarks Country” column for The Springdale News and syndicating to 17 newspapers across Arkansas.
Deane died on May 7, 1991, in Fayetteville and is buried in Lewisville at Wilson Cemetery.
The Ernie Deane Award was established after his death and presented annually to the journalist or writer whose work “best exemplifies the spirit, style, and courage of Ernie Deane.”