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Jesse Dale Thorn
Thorn outside the J. Dale Thorn Writing Lab at Louisiana State University
Thorn outside the J. Dale Thorn Writing Lab at Louisiana State University

(1942-10-07)October 7, 1942
Brandon, Rankin County
Mississippi, USA

Reared in West Monroe, Ouachita Parish
Died May 8, 2014(2014-05-08) (aged 71)
Ridgeland, Madison County
Cause of death Parkinson's disease

Monroe, Louisiana
Shreveport, Louisiana
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Brandon, Mississippi
Alma mater

Ouachita Parish High School
University of Louisiana at Monroe
Louisiana State University

Florida State University

Journalist; Public official; Academic

Press Secretary to Governor Edwin Edwards
Religion Baptist

(1) Peggy A. Thorn (married 1971-1974, divorced)

(2) Diane Taylor Thorn (divorced)
later Diane Caldarera (born April 1942) of Bossier City, Louisiana )
Children No children
Relatives Truett N. Thorn (brother)

Jesse Dale Thorn, usually known as Dale Thorn or as J. Dale Thorn (October 7, 1942 – May 8, 2014), was a journalist and professor at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who was the first press secretary during the 1970s to then Governor Edwin Edwards, a Democrat.


A native of Brandon in Rankin County, Mississippi,[1] Thorn was reared in West Monroe and graduated in 1960 from Ouachita Parish High School in Monroe.[2] Thorn enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, with service from 1960 to 1964. Thereafter, he obtained his undergraduate degree in Journalism from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, then known as Northeast Louisiana State College, and his master's in journalism from Louisiana State University, where he was later a professor. He subsequently obtained a Ph.D. in higher education administration from Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida.[3]

Thorn's newspaper career began at the Monroe News-Star, then the Monroe Morning World, where he reported on government, politics, and the state capital. He subsequently was an editor and capital correspondent for The Shreveport Times. Both publications were then owned by the family of the late John D. Ewing. Thorn became Edwards's press secretary when Edwards was U.S. Representative from Louisiana's 7th congressional district, since disbanded and merged into Louisiana's 3rd congressional district. He continued as the press spokesman well into the second term as governor and in that capacity became acquainted with many of the leading journalists in the state.[3] Thorn once observed that the southern press in the 1960s rarely reported on crimes against African Americans:[4]"The metro press really didn't cover that type of thing." A case in point was the burning death of Frank Morris, who operated a shoe repair shop in Ferriday in Concordia Parish, an unsolved racially motivated killing.[5]

Upon leaving the Edwards administration, Thorn joined the staff of the Louisiana Board of Regents and became associate commissioner for higher education. He worked to settle a dispute between the state and the United States Department of Justice over desegregation of higher education in Louisiana. He then joined the administration of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches as vice president for academic affairs. He returned to LSU in Baton Rouge to teach journalism and public relations and was named professional in residence with an endowed scholarship at the Douglas Manship School of Mass Communication. He retired from LSU in 2000 and relocated to his native Brandon in the Jackson Metropolitan Statistical Area.[3]

Thorn died in 2014 of Parkinson's disease while in hospice care in Ridgeland in Madison County near Brandon. Thorn was a Baptist. He was survived by an older brother, Truett Noris Thorn[6] (born October 30, 1935) and wife, the former Brenda Gremillion, of Denham Springs in Livingston Parish, Louisiana.[7] Truett Thorn is a retired coach at West Monroe High School[8] who was elected in 1966 as a Democrat to the West Monroe City Council under Mayor Bert Hatten, also an alumnus of the Monroe newspapers.[9]

Former Louisiana State Senator Armand Brinkhaus, a Democrat from Sunset in St. Landry Parish who served from 1968 to 1996, wrote that his own recollection of Thorn "goes back to his work with Edwin Edwards in Congress ... He was a remarkable man, inventive, a leader, and a survivor. May God bless him and his family."[3]


  • "When a Trial Threatens to Merge Small Universities: The Role of Litigation Public Relations in a Federal Desegregation Case" Innovative Higher Education, Vol. 22, No. 2 pp. 101–115, (1997), an examination of the campaign to save from closure Mississippi University for Women in Columbus in eastern Mississippi and Mississippi Valley State University in Leflore County in western Mississippi.[10]
  • "Journal of Customer Service in Marketing and Management", Journal: Public Relations Review, Vol. 22, No. 3, pp. 315–316, 1996[11]
  • Essay in Coming Home to Mississippi by Jo McDivitt, an anthology of prominent Mississippians who returned to their native state in their later years.[12]


  1. "Jesse Dale Thorn". Retrieved January 11, 2015. 
  2. "Dale Thorn (Class of 1960)". Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "Jesse Dale Thorn". Baton Rouge Morning Advocate. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  4. "Dr. J. Dale Thorn".!search/profile/person?personId=91443982&targetid=profile. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  5. "Matthew Barnidge, LSU student media, Small-town paper calls attention to unsolved civil-rights killings, December 25, 2009". Lafourche Parish Daily Comet. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  6. "Obituary of Dr. Jesse Dale Thorn, May 14, 2014". Ouachita Citizen. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  7. "Click Truett Thorn, October 1935". Retrieved May 17, 2014. [dead link]
  8. "West Monroe High School (Class of 1983)". Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  9. Lake Charles American Press, June 15, 1966, p. 10
  10. "When a Trial Threatens to Merge Small Universities: The Role of Litigation Public Relations in a Federal Desegregation Case (1997)". Archived from the original on May 17, 2014. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  11. "Journal of Customer Service in Marketing and Management". Retrieved May 17, 2014. 
  12. Meet "Coming Home to Mississippi" essayist, Jo McDivitt, at Magee Chamber of Commerce, Tea in the Gardens, April 18, 2014. Magee News. Retrieved May 17, 2014. 

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