Rolla Clymer was born at Alton, Osborne County, Kansas, on July 23, 1888. His earliest days were spent in various Kansas and midwestern towns where his father held pastorates. Much of his adolescence was passed in Quenemo, Franklin County, Kansas, where he graduated from high school in 1905. Clymer then attended the College of Emporia in Emporia, Kansas, and graduated with his A. B. degree in 1909. Later he completed some post-graduate work at the University of Kansas in Lawrence, Kansas, and was an alumnus of the William Allen White School of Journalism. Clymer’s earliest newspaper training began as a college student in 1907, under the expert tutelage of William Allen White. First as a part-time reporter, and later as city editor, Clymer worked on White’s Emporia Gazette from 1907 until 1914. As one of White’s “boys”, the two men remained lifelong friends.
From 1914 to 1918 Clymer was editor and manager of the Olathe, Kansas, Register. In 1915 he married Elizabeth Hoisington of Newton, Kansas. The Clymer’s had two children, David Hoisington Clymer who followed his father as a Kansas newspaperman, and Catherine Clymer who worked in a California media advertising agency. In 1918 Rolla Clymer moved his young family to El Dorado, Kansas, where he became editor and manager of the El Dorado Republican. Except for a six month hiatus in 1937 as editor and manager of the Santa Fe New Mexican in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Clymer served the remainder of his professional career in El Dorado.
In 1919 Clymer oversaw the merger of the Republican and the Walnut Valley Times into the El Dorado Times. After several years of sharing publication responsibilities with former editor, J. B. Adams, of the Walnut Valley Times, Clymer became sole editor and general manager for the Times Publishing Company. He also later became owner of this same company. Clymer was widely respected as a writer and editorialist and his work was often reprinted by other editors throughout the state and nation. He became quite active and influential in Republican party politics in Kansas: most notably as part of Alfred M. Landon’s staff during the 1936 U. S. Presidential campaign. Although his closest associates often spoke of him as a viable candidate for Governor of Kansas, Clymer never chose to run for any political office. He served as Public Relations Director of the Kansas State Republican Committee in 1930 and 1934 and as the first secretary/director of the Kansas Industrial Development Commission from 1939 until 1942. In addition, Clymer was quite active in various regional and statewide editorial, business, and civic positions.
In his later years Clymer devoted much of his time to efforts to preserve the Kansas Flint Hills region which he dearly loved. In addition to newspaper editorials, he wrote and published numerous widely circulated articles and poems about the Flint Hills. Perhaps his best known tribute was his poem “Majesty of the Hills,” which helped earn him the designation as Poet Laureate of the Flint Hills. Clymer’s journalistic, political, and civic contributions were widely and often recognized. In addition to numerous community awards, in 1957 he received the annual William Allen White Foundation Award for Journalistic Merit. He was named the Native Sons and Daughters' Kansan of the Year in 1959. In 1970 he was awarded an honorary doctorate from Kansas State Teacher’s College of Emporia, now Emporia State University. Rolla Clymer died on June 4, 1977, having been the editor of the El Dorado Times for 59 years.
The Kansas Historical Society also has collection of papers by Rolla Clymer, which can be found at the Rolla Clymer Collection
Entry: Clymer, Rolla
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: May 2012
Date Modified: January 2016
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