Wartburg Magazine


SPRING 2005 ISSUE
Volume 21 Number 2


Grant PriceProfessor’s life work becomes Wartburg legacy
by Karris Golden ’98

Newsman Grant Price has devoted his life to his family and to journalism.
These commitments made him a natural fit at Wartburg, where he has taught communication arts courses for the past 14 years.

After a few “false retirements,” this is it. Price, professor emeritus of communication arts, will make the 2004-05 academic year his last.

In planning his retirement, Price was clear that he wanted no fanfare; he’s had enough parties, he says. However, his farewell comes on the heels of his $2 million gift to the college, something that attracts a lot of attention.

Actually, the gift is about leaving a bit of himself and his late wife, Fadra, in the classroom.

“I have come to love this place,” Price says. “I see value in what we’ve done in the communication arts department. The education our students get here makes their lives bloom.”

An investment he made several years ago allowed Price to make this substantial gift. “It’s marvelous to use resources in this way, and those resources will have a living outcome over who knows how many years to come. That gives me a great deal of satisfaction.”

Over the years, Iowans welcomed Price into their homes as he became one of the state’s most respected television newsmen. They grew to know him as a man of quiet dignity and fierce integrity. His students know him as an excellent, hands-on teacher and as a friend.

Above all, he has always been a journalist. He expected high quality work at the helm of some of the state’s most prestigious broadcast newsrooms, and he held his students to the same standard.

Price followed an interesting path from cowboy to journalist. “In a sense, I have backed into a lot of things that have happened to me,” he says.

Born Nov. 11, 1922, in Melville, Saskatchewan, Canada, Price’s parents were farmers when everything was done with horsepower, not machinery. He attended a one-room schoolhouse, with the same teacher for eight grades. Before he entered high school, the Prices moved to north-central Nebraska.

“My dad got a job on a cattle ranch 20 miles south of Atkinson,” he recalls.
It was 1936, and Price lived in town, attending high school in Atkinson. “I hated it,” he says. “I wanted to be a cowboy.”

Price did work on the 12,000-acre ranch during breaks from school. The ranch boasted 1,500 to 2,000 head of cattle and meant long days of hard work.

So he was a cowboy, but not the kind he aspired to become. Price longed to be like movie cowboys. “Working on the ranch wasn’t riding the range, strapping on a six-gun and shooting up Atkinson on Saturday night,” he says, laughing.

After graduating from high school in 1940, Price ditched everything but his cowboy boots. He enrolled at American University in Washington, D.C.
But the attack on Pearl Harbor made Price realize he would likely be drafted. He transferred to Morningside College in Sioux City to be closer to home.

Sioux City signaled his introduction to radio at KSCJ. “There was a habit of hiring student announcers to keep expenses down,” he recalls. “Every morning, I’d get on the street car and ride through town with the meat packinghouse workers to sign on the station, then I’d go to classes. KSCJ was the lynchpin – that’s what got me into broadcasting.

“That was a critical step for me. I had always had an interest in speech and debate, and radio was something that used those skills.”

He finished the semester at Morningside before the Navy drafted him. He served in the South Pacific and returned to Sioux City after being discharged. He got a job as a night announcer at a radio station and re-enrolled at Morningside.

Soon after, he was offered the job of news director at KTRI Radio. “I knew I couldn’t do that and go to class,” Price explains. “I dropped out of college and became a one-man news team.”

One year later, Price took a similar job at KXEL Radio in Waterloo, where he worked from 1948 to 1959. He saw the writing on the wall; television would eventually dominate broadcast news. With that in mind, he went to work for the WMT organization in Cedar Rapids as a desk reporter at the radio station.

“I did the morning news on the radio station, because at that time, there was the possibility that you could do something on the TV newscast, too,” he says.
Eventually, Price was offered the job as news director at Channel 2 TV and Radio, which was then part of the WMT organization.

“I inherited a very strong news organization,” he says. “We were the powerful news organization in the Waterloo, Cedar Rapids and Dubuque market.”

In fall 1972, the Waterloo-based Black Hawk Broadcasting Co. offered Price a job as vice president of news and public affairs. In addition to KWWL-TV in Waterloo, the company owned TV stations in Sioux City and Austin, Minn., as well as radio stations in Cedar Rapids, Des Moines and Waterloo.

A sale to AFLAC’s broadcast division in 1980 made Price vice president of news at KWWL. With AFLAC, the station grew to overwhelming ratings dominance, Price notes.

By 1989, Price was 67 years old and thought it was time to “clear out of the newsroom.” He retired but remained a part-time consultant, doing editorials and the station’s public affairs work.

A fortuitous lunch with former Wartburg Board of Regents Chairman Harry Slife and former Wartburg President Robert Vogel ’56 brought Price to the college. “They were crazy enough to ask me to teach here,” he quips.

Price established himself in Neumann House, the former communication arts building, with then department chair Robert Gremmels ’52, now professor emeritus of journalism. Price taught a required course for broadcasting students. At that point radio was the college’s only electronic journalism program.

Slife and Vogel believed Price could help the department move beyond its radio-only broadcasting emphasis. The R.J. McElroy Trust gave a major gift to install a TV studio and lab. Funds were used to equip the college’s TV facilities and renovate the former Liemohn Hall music building into the McElroy Communication Arts Center.

“Liemohn Hall was ideally suited to be remodeled for our purposes,” Price explains. “It gave our program a proper home. The TV emphasis became a real magnet for prospective students, and you can chart the program’s growth from the addition of TV to the curriculum.”

When Gremmels retired in 1993, Price cut ties with KWWL and became full-time department chair. In the late 1990s, he recruited broadcaster Liz Mathis, now anchorwoman at KCRG-TV9 in Cedar Rapids, to teach and co-chair the department. His extensive work for the Archives of Iowa Broadcasting helped make the Vogel Library the collection’s permanent home.

“Grant Price is a true professional, friend and colleague,” says Wartburg President Jack R. Ohle. “I enjoy talking with him in the hallways, the Den or in the communication arts offices and have appreciated his counsel, his suggestions or just the opportunity to talk.

He is a valued faculty member and has been a mentor to many Wartburg students. Despite his retirement, I am sure he will remain an inspiring presence on the campus.”

Over the years, Price forged relationships with students in and outside the classroom. He appreciates the college’s history and connections to Germany and has enjoyed learning about Wartburg’s legacy.

"There is an ethos about this institution. That is something I respect, and I attach a real emotional connection to Wartburg,” he says.

Despite his reluctance to fully retire in past years, he believes Fadra appreciated his work. “She valued the college, though not in the same way I did,” he says. “She knew I wasn’t the kind of guy who retires and follows his wife around, bothering her. She and I were partners, so in that sense, she made as big a contribution as I did.”

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Price Photo 1
THANKS FOR THE MEMORIES – Grant Price, professor emeritus of communication arts, made the transition from newsroom to classroom in the early 1990s.

Price Photo 2

Price Photo 3
In his time at Wartburg, he witnessed the dedication of McElroy Communication Arts Center and celebrated it with Vicki Edelnant, now director of the Pathways Center, and Robert Gremmels ’52.

Price Photo 4
He was also instrumental in the installation and evolution of the department’s broadcasting emphasis.

Charitable Gift Annuity vehicle for Price’s giving

In fall 2004, Grant Price approached Wartburg development staff members about including the college in his estate planning. An investment he had made many years earlier had greatly appreciated in value, and he wanted to investigate alternatives in planning how to make the best use of the funds.

Price had three goals in mind – providing for his family, making a significant gift to Wartburg and taking advantage of favorable tax strategies available for his circumstances. That began a discussion that included family members, his lawyer and development staff members. Price’s family includes: daughter, Laurie Price Kemp, son-in-law, Christopher, and grandchildren Lucas and Sarah of St. Paul, Minn.; and daughter, Julie Price Barnd, son-in-law, Mark, and grandchildren Emily ’06, Andrew and Matthew, of Marion.

After considering several variations, it was determined that a $2 million charitable gift annuity to Wartburg would be one of the pieces of the estate-planning puzzle. Price will receive a payout of 8.5 percent annually for life from the gift annuity.

Through his estate, the gift annuity will fund:

• the Grant L. Price Chair in Communication Arts;

• a significant addition to the endowment of the Archives of Iowa Broadcasting, housed at Wartburg;

• an addition to the Fadra F. Price Communication Arts Scholarship that honors his late wife;

• the establishment of the Grant L. Price Scholarship.

“Grant’s astute investing and his desire to take advantage of available estate planning tools have enabled him to provide generously for his family and make a significant gift that will benefit Wartburg students for generations to come,” said David Ostrander, vice president for institutional advancement. “Not only has he been a positive impact on hundreds of Wartburg students through his 14 years in the classroom, the provisions he has made with his estate plan will continue his impact into the future.”

 

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