Richard B. Fowler

If not for a five-year period battle with tuberculosis, Richard Fowler, one of the Kansas City Star’s most prolific writers, might have spent his life as a chicken farmer. A five-year period of enforced bed rest began Fowler’s writing career in his early 20s.

Born near Sedalia, Missouri, and orphaned as a young boy, Fowler was raised by aunts and was educated in a one-room school. He attended Westminster College and went on to Washington University in St. Louis, graduating with a degree in commerce and finance. Fowler was working in the poultry business when doctors diagnosed his tuberculosis at the age of 22 and prescribed inactivity. He began writing and sold his first story to Scribner’s magazine and continued to sell articles to several newspapers.

Fowler’s decades of work at the Star started in 1930 as a general assignment reporter. He began submitting articles on the lives of prominent Kansas Citians a year earlier and continued his "Turning Point" column for the next three years. He took on the Pendergast political machine as an editorial writer in the 1930s, attacking the city’s corrupt administration until it fell in 1940. Fowler was a prolific writer, typing with two fingers his interviews with such notables as Harry Truman, Clarence Darrow, Helen Hayes, Al Jolson, and Sinclair Lewis. He authored several books, including Leaders in Our Town and City of the Future, co-authored with Henry Haskell.

Fowler was named the Star’s fourth editor in 1960 and president in 1963, succeeding Roy A. Roberts. Under Fowler’s leadership, the staff of the Star was aggressively integrated and wages were sharply increased. A retirement plan was adopted that helped make way for younger employees to move into positions of leadership. After just six years at the helm, Fowler retired from the newspaper in 1968.

Spending much of each year during retirement in Mexico, Fowler continued to contribute stories to the Star on the politics and economics of that country. While visiting Morelia, Mexico, he was killed in an automobile accident on August 19, 1978, at the age of 76.

Acknowledgement: 

A version of this article previously appeared at http://www.kchistory.org/content/biography-richard-b-fowler-1902-1978-ne...

KANSAS CITY PUBLIC LIBRARY | DIGITAL HISTORY
Civil War on the Western Border: The Missouri-Kansas Conflict,1855-1865.
The Pendergast Years, Kansas City in the Jazz Age & Great Depression.
KC History, Missouri Valley Special Collections at the Kansas City Public Library.