Remembering three alumni, pioneers of journalism

The journalism world has sadly lost three long-time pioneers in the first half of 2015, all alumni of the UW Department of Communication. One of them with strong ties to The Daily was known to never back down from expressing his own opinions; one was a staple in the Tacoma news scene for nearly three decades, and the other an academic leader at the University of Oregon.


William Asbury during his time as adviser of the UW Daily during the early 1970s. Photo courtesy University of Washington.

William Asbury (B.A., 1949) was an advisor to The Daily and became somewhat of a political leader on campus when chaos ensued in 1970 after President Nixon expanded the Vietnam War. Earlier he was the Managing Editor of the Bremerton Sun before making his way up to Executive Editor of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

Asbury oversaw three Pulitzer Prize-winners at the launch of their careers, who also happen to be inductees to the UW Department of Communication Alumni Hall of Fame: Eric Nalder (’68), Timothy Egan (’81), and David Horsey (’76), who said he owed the start of his career to Asbury.

In his 70s, Asbury was still sailing solo to the Queen Charlotte Islands, working as a deckhand on an Alaskan fishing boat, and summiting Mount Whitney, according to this article in The Olympian by Scott Stoddard. Asbury passed away in March 2015 at age 90.

In the article, Asbury’s son said, “He was a huge Husky fan. I attended games with him, and he would be cheering himself hoarse rooting for the Dawgs.”

Cardwell2Rodney Cardwell (B.A., 1953) joined the journalism school at the University of Washington after serving in the Korean War. He worked at The Daily and spent his weekends as a copy boy for the Seattle Times. After graduation, he spent 29 years at the Tacoma News Tribune, part of the time producing the award-winning column “Faces and Places.”

When Cardwell became the paper’s city editor in 1973, he became known for his 3- by 5-inch index cards, which he continued to send with notes on them after his retirement in 1986, according to this obituary.

Remembrances can be made to the Rod Cardwell Endowment for Excellence in Journalism at the University of Washington to help train the next generations of storytellers who won’t have Rod’s 3-by-5 cards to help them along. You can support this fund at or send a check to The University of Washington, 4333 Brooklyn Ave N.E. Box 359505, Seattle, WA 98195-9505 (Please put Rod Cardwell Endowment in the memo line).

Ismach_ArnoldArnold Ismach received his Ph.D. at the UW Department of Communication in 1975 after a 15-year career as a daily newspaper editor. After a 12-year stint as faculty at the University of Minnesota, Ismach moved to the University of Oregon to become Dean of the School of Journalism and Communication (SOJC).

In this article, Ismach “was applauded for bringing the SOJC into the computer age with the introduction of three computer labs and by providing every faculty and staff member with their own computer.”

Ismach passed away on January 13, 2015 at age 84.

He once told us, “It was the Washington program that shaped my career and my academic abilities. I’ll be forever grateful for that.”

If you would like to give a gift in memory of any of these valued alumni, please consider the Excellence in Journalism fund, which supports programs like the Olympia Legislative Reporting Internship for today’s journalism students. Give online