Some information for this article comes from an obituary in the Laurel Leader by Melanie Dzwonchyk.
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (July 20) – Longtime Laurel Leader editor Gertrude L. Poe did not attend the University of Maryland. But she was an ardent supporter of its students and programs, and very proud of her placement in the Maryland Delaware DC Press Association Hall of Fame located in Philip Merrill College of Journalism’s Knight Hall.
“Gertrude was a born leader,” said Ralph Hostetter, the chairman and publisher of American Farm Publications in Easton, Md., and a friend of Poe. “She was the first woman to be president of the Maryland Delaware DC Press Association (1962) and first female president of any press association in the United States. She made tremendous contributions to the press association and was a role model for women in her field.”
Miss Poe’s interest in helping young journalists led her to establish an endowed fund in June, 1988 at Merrill College. The money helps to fund undergraduate student scholarships, with preference given to students who have an interest in community journalism. The Gertrude Poe Fund for Journalism Excellence is designed to “assure the future strength and vigor of the free press at all levels.”
“I think that is very much she had in mind when she set the scholarship up,” said Rodgers. “Miss Poe wanted to support these young journalists so they didn’t have to ask anything of her. She didn’t expect anything in return from them except they move forward with their lives and do the most that they could with them.”
“Miss Poe was a long-time supporter of Merrill College,” said Lucy Dalglish. “Her scholarship support has benefited many students over the years. Her last visit to the college was in 2015, when she totally charmed one of our reporting classes held in the Maryland-Delaware District of Columbia Press Association Hall of Fame. When she told them, “I’m going to be 100 years old!”, they gave her a round of applause.”
There will be a celebration of life service at the First United Methodist Church of Laurel on Aug. 12 at 11 a.m., followed by a reception. Internment is private.