Dick Palmer: Westmoreland has brought good cheer to Duluth since 1943
This fellow is no ordinary Tom, Dick or Harry, even though his given name is, indeed, Harry. On Aug. 26, Harry will be 97 years young. His legacy is steeped in a sincere dedication to this community he served with dignity and the media he so ampl...
This fellow is no ordinary Tom, Dick or Harry, even though his given name is, indeed, Harry. On Aug. 26, Harry will be 97 years young. His legacy is steeped in a sincere dedication to this community he served with dignity and the media he so amply participated in dating back to the golden years of pioneer radio.
"Harry" and his late wife Dorothy had two children, Diane, who is married to Joe Golden of Duluth, and Gloria, who is married to Phil Smith of Eden Prairie.
Diane and Joe have eight children, and Gloria and Phil have two children. On the Golden side, in addition to his eight grandchildren, Harry has 30 great grandchildren, one great great grandchild and two on the way.
On the Smith side, in addition to two grandchildren, he has three great grandchildren. The family tree totals 46, give or take. Most of the kids simply call him "Grandpa," but Duluth friends all address him as "Wes," as in H. E. Westmoreland, a senior citizen whose legacy is appreciated by the thousands who were affected by his vision, patience and leadership.
Wes was born on Aug. 26, 1908, in Letcher, S.D. Dad operated a grain elevator. Wes enjoyed the usual activities like horseback riding, baseball and marbles, and he tolerated the farm chores.
He especially liked school, though, and was ecstatic when the family moved to Minneapo-lis in 1917. He attended Minnea-polis Central High School and became manager of the school magazine. He also worked on the school newspaper.
Wes liked drama, debate and was school manager of the track and football teams. He didn't let any grass grow under his feet, and, believe it or not, he is pretty much that way today, a little slower but polished and self-assured.
After high school graduation, Wes attended the University of Minnesota (Minneapolis campus) for a spell, but left to work with Northwestern National Life Insurance Company. The Great Depression had just started and life was unpredictable, and the lack of money was an obstacle.
He married Dorothy Stevenson, his high school sweetheart, on Sept. 6, 1930. Dorothy is gone now, but Wes has the ongoing support of his wonderful family and friends.
The insurance business wasn't so hot in those days. Certainly no welfare, food stamps and other benefits tided one over during difficult times. So, Wes got together with a school buddy, Dick Forest, to start a farm publication, then a weekly newspaper called the Robbinsdale Post, later the Minneapolis Visitor and the Milwaukee Visitor and a publication covering Minnesota Supreme Court decisions. They weren't getting rich, but they were eating and providing for their young families.
Radio was coming on strong in the Twin Cities and Wes was offered a job as the sales manager of WLOL in Minneapolis. Just a year later, he became the vice president and general manager of the station. At age 33, he became "tuned" into his future.
In 1943, Wes accepted a new challenge and became the director of operations for the Arrowhead Radio Network, a combination of radio giants like WEBC-Duluth, WHLB-Virginia, WMFG-Hibbing, WEAU-Eau Claire and WJMC-Rice Lake.
Personalities like newsman extraordinaire Earl Henton were cutting their teeth with WEBC and a whole new world of opportunity opened up for Wes in the Zenith City.
In 1949, Wes left the comfort of a blossoming radio empire and started his own advertising agency, H. E. Westmoreland, Inc. Wes established a sincere credibility that helped clients find the proper media for their goods and services. Yes, his staff handled newspaper and billboard promotionals as well.
Wes is no longer involved and his former agency is now known as WestmorelandFlint. Today, Wes seldom misses a weekly Rotary meeting. He is a past president of the club and a past Rotary District Governor. He has served on numerous community projects.
In reflection, he has been one of those pioneer movers and shakers in Duluth that quietly got things done without the fanfare associated with the political solutions we are so accustomed to today. We wish him well, and will use his famous comment to close this article, "Wes, be of good cheer."