Crombie Allen
The Daily Report, Ontario

Among newspaper publishers of California since, perhaps, Robert Semple, few have been more dedicated or colorful than he who is being honored as the [1968] nominee for the Hall of Fame, Crombie Allen.

As publisher and editor for 18 years (1818-1930) of The Ontario Daily Report, Crombie Allen, “r.r. (roving rotarian)” and “the OLDEST Printer’s Devil in Ontario,” as he signed himself, might be said to have led a double life. But each life was, in a real sense, an integral part of the other, both of them involving his generous and enthusiastic devotion to people.

Despite his tours about the world as Rotary International Ambassador of Good Will, his hometown readers never had cause to complain of his editorial or civic duties — and virtues — during that crowded span of useful years. From the date of its first issue, Jan. 1, 1912, The Daily Report became a symbol of Crombie Allen’s genius both at home and abroad. He would have insisted, modestly, that his brother and partner Harold (Had) made his accomplishments possible; but that individual spark undoubtedly must have shone brightly in whatever circumstances or climate it found itself.

Both men had owned a newspaper in Greenburg, Pa., but it was in Ontario that the Allen journalistic formula bore full fruit.

In 1917 Mr. Allen was elected president of the Southern California Editorial Association, predecessor of the California Newspaper Publishers Association, and served for two years. That organization had been formed earlier to promote the expanding interests of the newspaper profession and was sponsored by such of his colleagues as Harlan Palmer, Hollywood; John King, Hemet; Tobias Larson, Claremont; Harry Wenster, San Bernardino; Paul Moore, Redlands; Timothy Brownhill, La Puente; George Blair, Corona; and others. Even in those days there were problems such as newsprint prices, tax rolls, legal advertising, labor and equipment costs, as well as legislative contacts at Sacramento under the regimes of Governors Friend Richardson and Frank Merriam, both newspapermen — in all of which Crombie Allen took an active official part. Later, as a member of CNPA, he was active in the affairs of the Association as committeeman, speaker and enthusiastic sponsor.

His sphere of interest and influence widened appreciably in 1922 when Mr. Allen became the first president of the Ontario Rotary Club and dedicated much of his available time and energy to furthering the work of Rotary International by becoming a member of the Rotary Foundation Committee and by organizing a number of clubs in far-flung corners of the world. In that capacity he attended the World Press Congress in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1926 to invite the Congress to meet in Los Angeles in 1932; in 1928 on a tour of South America he invited newspaper publishers to the same Congress in Los Angeles, as well as to the National Editorial Association convention and the Tenth Olympiad.

But with all his travels abroad his activities back home were in no way neglected. He found time here to become a member of the California State Assembly; to endow a Peace Oratorical contest at both Chaffey High School and Chaffey College, Ontario; to establish the Crombie Allen contest at the California Junior Republic for the outstanding youth of the year; to further the charitable work of Casa Colina, convalescent home for crippled children, and to encourage the purchase of War Savings stamps among juveniles. He was a member of Sigma Delta Chi, national professional journalism fraternity, and of Bethel Congregational Church.

In the early 1920s Mr. Allen became associated with the University of Southern California Department of Journalism in actively recruiting high school and college journalism graduates for professional work in the daily and weekly newspaper field in California. One of his important contributions to the effort consisted of United States bonds sufficient to provide a plaque awarded annually to the high school producing the best student newspaper. The Crombie Allen award thus became one of the most-prized trophies throughout the length and breadth of Southern California. Besides encouraging the enthusiastic team effort of journalism students, the stimulus of the award through the years has produced many workers in professional journalism throughout the entire state.

The name and dedication of Crombie Allen may well be said to have become a heritage from which the entire profession of journalism will derive future substance and benefit.

The Ontario Daily Report was sold in 1930 to the late Frank B. Appleby and his wife Jerene (now Mrs. Harnish.) Thus Crombie Allen retired after 18 years as editor and publisher, and as one of the best loved men of his community and profession. Years after his retirement he suffered a stroke from which he never recovered, and died March 1, 1946, at age 71, in the Merrill Osteopathic Sanitarium, Venice, Calif.

Hall of Fame inductees are selected annually by a committee appointed by the California Press Foundation. They recognize career achievements of weekly and daily publishers in California who were important and influential in their era, as judged by their peers in the association. The write-ups are a historical and journalistic snapshot in time and not official biographies.