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Paynesville Press -July 12, 2006

Distinguished alumni award recipients:
Peter and Lynne Jacobson

By Addi Larson and Michael Jacobson

In 1973, Peter and Lynne Jacobson were in the midst of their teaching careers and family life when an offer to buy the Paynesville Press brought them back to the rural community where they were raised. Today, after 33 years as publishers of the Press and active community members, the story of their lives heralds the indelible imprints they have left in their hometown.

Jacobsons Now in its fourth generation, the Press has been a family legacy since 1924 when Lynne's grandfather, G.A. LeMasurier, purchased the business. The Press is one of the oldest businesses in Paynesville, having been established in 1887 in New Paynesville (then a rival with Old Paynesville, the first settlement, and North Paynesville).

Peter and Lynne Jacobson (Classes of 1961 and 1962)

"We came back to our hometown to run a quality product," said Lynne, whose father, also a Press publisher, followed the philosophy of always reporting the truth but emphasizing the good.

While a profitable newspaper can be published without investing in news, their approach has always been to hire editors and reporters to gather the news, take pictures, and report about the happenings, great and small, in the community.

During their tenure as publishers of the Press, the newspaper has won eight awards from the National Newspaper Association and 37 awards from the Minnesota Newspaper Association, including the inaugural Mills Trophy in 1983, which recognizes the best weekly newspaper in the state.

Other awards earned by the Press include honors by the Minnesota Education Association, by Special Olympics, and by the Minnesota Association of Soil and Water Conservation Districts.

"The heart and soul of the newspaper is news," said Peter. "That's what brings readers into it."

The Press, he added, has been blessed with great advertisers, who pay the bills, and great readers, who the advertisers pay to reach: "Without either group, there'd be nothing to publish."

"We have been fortunate in being supported very well with advertisers, " Peter said. "We've been able to carry out the news mission."

Peter Jacobson grew up as a farm boy in Roseville Township and went to a one-room country school until the ninth grade. A 1961 PHS graduate, he ranked second in his high school class. He earned a physics and science teaching degree from Augsburg College in 1965.

Lynne (LeMasurier) Jacobson grew up right in Paynesville and attended school in Paynesville from first grade to graduation. She graduated third in her class at PHS in 1962. Then she earned her degree in elementary education from the University of Minnesota and taught for several years.

Lynne and Peter - who started dating during his senior year, her junior year, after she cut her long hair - were married in August 1965.

After that, he taught for three years at Breck High School. In 1968, the couple moved to Ithaca, N.Y., where Peter attended Cornell University, receiving a master's degree in science teaching in 1969, while Lynne taught and gave birth to daughter Laurie.

The family moved back to Minnesota after that, and Peter taught junior high school science in Wayzata from 1969-73. During this time, they lived in Watertown, where son Michael was born and where Lynne taught special education for a couple years.

Lynne and Peter moved back to Paynesville in 1973 when Lynne's father, R. Earle LeMasurier, who was the Press publisher from 1939 to 1973, wanted to enjoy retirement.

Peter said of moving their family of four back to Paynesville: "We were sort of torn, but we welcomed the opportunity to do something different, to own a business."

Lynne said she remembered thinking in 1973 that had the move not suited them, "We could always go back to teaching."

Peter received a few days on-the-job training and a few weeks in the office with Earle before taking the reins at the newspaper. Peter was the main ad salesman at the Press for over two decades. He enjoyed not being behind his desk. "I like getting out and talking to people," he said.

When they became publishers of the Press, offset printing or "cold type" was in its infancy. The Press had been printed in Paynesville using "hot type" until 1969. Originally, this involved stacking individual letters into racks to form stories and headlines to put on the press. Then the Line-O-Type, a mechanical marvel in the 1930s, allowed printers to type an entire line of text.

When Lynne's father was publisher, it took three whole workdays just to print the 12-page newspaper. Nowadays, using offset printing, the 2,600-circulation newspaper, normally 20 pages, can be printed in about an hour.

The Press purchased early computer-like typesetting machines in the 1970s and Apple computers in the mid-1980s.

Since 1996, the Paynesville Press has been published online, extending its readership to a global arena of information consumers. "At the time, we were really at the forefront of putting news online," said Lynne, who serves as Press webmaster. In addition to the weekly Press, the Jacobsons started the shopper, the Press Plus, several seasonal publications, and an alternate delivery system during their tenure as Press publishers.

Peter and Lynne - who sold their shares in the Press to son Michael, previously editor and now publisher/editor, as of June 1 - have entered semi-retirement. Both will continue to work part-time at the Press, while Peter hopes to have more time to "farm" his land in the Conservation Reserve Program and Lynne hopes to have more time to read, to do all the things she has meant to do around the house, and to babysit their granddaughter.

The Jacobsons also plan to stay active in the community, something they have done for years.

For the past 15 years, Peter has served as president of the Lake Koronis Association, "an organization formed to promote the protection and improvement of Lake Koronis." He has spent many work days on lake association business, mainly focusing an protecting and improving the water quality in the local area. He helped to establish the North Fork Crow River Watershed District through his work with the Koronis Lake Association.

Peter said he is looking forward to the completion of the trail system around Lake Koronis as it will "continue to improve the quality of life for lake residents."

The Jacobsons have a vested interest in Lake Koronis, as they own a summer cottage on the north side of Lake Koronis.

Both Peter and Lynne have been active at their church and in trade organizations.

Both have served as the congregation president of Paynesville Lutheran Church. When their two children were young, Lynne and Peter served as Sunday School superintendents, taught confirmation, and organized Vacation Bible School. They also have both served on church council and been involved in many church functions over the years in Paynesville.

Peter chaired the building committee for the construction of the church in 1984. He also was president and intricately involved in the construction of a new addition to the church in 2000.

Since 2005, Lynne has served as the president of the Minnesota Newspaper Foundation, having served on the board for the past five years. Peter was the president of the Minnesota Newspaper Association from 1991-92 and was on the board for seven years.

Both served as state officers in the Jaycees, and Peter was given the highest award in the Jaycees, being named a Jaycee Senator in the 1970s, inducting him as a lifetime member of the organization. A Lion since 1969, he also has been named a Melvin Jones Fellow, the highest award in Lions International.

In 1989, Lynne helped initiate a banquet for senior honor students with the help of her friend, Mary Ellen Morris. The honors banquet still exists today, organized by parents each year. Through her daughter's involvement, Lynne became a Girl Scout leader and head of the Paynesville Area Girl Scouts for three years.

Among their other community service, Peter served as president of the Paynesville Area Chamber of Commerce for a year in the 1970s, Lynne has been an emcee for the Festival of Ethnic Traditions since its inception, and they both emceed the Miss Paynesville pageant this year for Town and Country Days.

They were named Bosses of the Year by the Paynesville Area Chamber of Commerce in January.

"We've enjoyed coming back," Peter said. "Anyone is honored to have been chosen for an award like this. We didn't live our lives to reach that goal. It's something that just happened along the way and we are humbled to receive it."

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