Gordon R. Garnos, longtime employee at the Public Opinion and a member of the South Dakota Hall of Fame, died earlier today at Jenkins Living Center. He was 81.
Garnos, who grew up in Presho, came to Watertown in 1964 and was employed a most 40 years at the Public Opinion, including the last 22 years as editor. He succeeded longtime editor Alex Johnson, and he retired in 2002.
“Gordy was a newsman’s newsman,” said former Public Opinion General Manager and Publisher Steve Lowrie. “He had a talent for finding the facts for important stories, and he always had his nose to the ground looking for a story.
“As a leader in the newsroom, Gordy was quick to teach new reporters how to separate fact from fiction. And, most important to Gordy, was that he ran a newsroom that was always unbiased and never chose sides on an issue, unless it was with editorial content.”
Lowrie said Garnos stressed fairness to everyone.
“Gordy wanted to treat all people the same, be it a U.S. senator or a city councilman. This is a quality you seldom see in journalists these days.”
Garnos was a graduate of the University of South Dakota and served in the U.S. Air Force. During his tour in England he met his future wife, Beth.
Besides his work at the Public Opinion, Garnos was best known for his work with numerous organizations, including the Benevolent and Protective Order of the Elks where he served as Watertown’s exalted ruler, district deputy Grand Exalted Ruler for eastern South Dakota and president of the S.D. Elks Association.
He was elected to the Watertown City Council in 2002 and served three terms. He lost a 2004 bid to the South Dakota House of Representatives.
In 2010 he was inducted to the S.D. Hall of Fame. In 2007 he was named a Lusk Fellow at the S.D. State University and was elected to the S.D. Newspaper Hall of Fame.
His many community awards included 4-H Meritorious Service Award, the S.D. National Guard Minute Man Award and the Boy Scout Service Award.
The South Dakota Association Press selected him S.D. Newsman of the Year for Community Service, and the AP Managing Editors Association selected him Newsman of the Year.
Garnos was a member of the Watertown Parks and Recreation Board for 22 years, serving at its chairman three times.
His most recent service was on the S.D. Civil Service Commission where he was appointed by Gov. Dennis Daugaard in 2014.
Garnos is survived by his wife, Beth, of Watertown, his sons, William and Richard, and his daughter, Heather.