October 6, 2017

FROM INTER-CITY NEWS TO "MISSOURI’S THIRD SENATOR" -- The Life and Career of Stanley R. Fike

Stan Fike, Senior Picture
East High School, Class of 1930
   In 1929 East High School had a newspaper called the "East High Echo" and its editor was a 16- year-old senior named Stanley R. Fike. The "Echo" was printed at the Inter-City Press, located in the basement of the Byam Building in Fairmount. Stanley was fascinated by the newspaper business and spent so many hours talking shop with Harry Falk, the co-owner of the company and editor of the newly renamed Inter-City News, that in January of 1930 Falk offered Stan Fike a job with the paper.

   While Stanley got to do a little writing and proofreading for the Inter-City News, his main job was as a "printer’s devil," which involved a lot of sweeping and cleaning the presses. For $4.50 a week Stanley worked every day after school and on Saturdays. He loved the newspaper world so much that he would have done the job for free. After graduating in 1930, working for "the paper" took up every minute he could spare. In 1931 he enrolled at the Kansas City Junior College but quickly dropped out. College was cutting into his time working at the newspaper. By that time Fike was doing much of the editorial writing for the paper. 

   The Inter-City Press went bankrupt in 1931 and was sold at auction. Stan Fike found himself unemployed for three weeks but was quickly re-hired by the new owners who were seasoned newspapermen that handled the editorials while Fike worked the local news beat.

   Future President Harry Truman was close friends with former owner and editor Harry Falk, and Truman’s friendship with the Inter-City News continued throughout his political career. During Truman’s successful Senate race in 1934 the Inter-City News wrote numerous editorials in support of Truman that were distributed all over the state, and the Inter-City Press did the bulk of the campaign printing for Harry Truman’s Senate race.

   By the mid-1930s Stanley Fike was the editor of the Inter-City News, and his reputation across the state of Missouri quickly spread. By 1943 he was the president of the Northwest Missouri Press Association, and in 1949 he became president of the Missouri Press Association, the youngest person ever to hold that office. The next few years would be his last as the editor of the Inter-City News.

   In later years it was said that not every Missourian knew who Stanley R. Fike was, but every Missouri newspaperman and every Missouri politician did.

Stanley R. Fike
Administrative Assistant and Right
Hand Man to Senator Stuart
   In 1952 Stanley Fike was hired as the Publicity Director for the U.S. Senatorial campaign of Stuart Symington. Symington had been named the first Secretary of the Air Force by President Truman in 1947. As Air Force Secretary Symington laid the foundation for the United States Air Force Academy and he played a large role in implementing Truman’s Executive Order 9981, which ended racial segregation in the Armed Forces. With Fike’s help Stuart Symington won the Senate race in 1952 and the new Senator took Stanley Fike with him to Washington, making Fike his administrative assistant.

   For the next 24 years that Stuart Symington served as Senator he considered Stanley Fike to be his right-hand man. Fike’s extensive state-wide press and political connections gave his boss a huge advantage in the ability to get things done for Missouri in Washington, and Symington often fondly referred to Stanley Fike "Missouri’s Third Senator."

   Stuart Symington resigned from the Senate in December of 1976, a week before the end of his term as a favor to his Republican successor, Jack Danforth, allowing Danforth to have a seniority advantage in the Senate that Danforth would not have had as a regular Senate freshman. Stanley Fike retired at the same time.

   Following his retirement Stanley Fike only returned to the Inter-City area to visit. After all those years living in the D.C. area he and his wife Mildred made the state of Maryland their home. Stanley spent his retirement years helping out charitable organizations, and when he passed away on September 29, 1989, he donated his body to the University of Maryland Medical School. He and Mildred, who passed away in 1995, are buried in Jefferson County, Kansas.

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