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Mary Lou Montgomery


Address: Hannibal, Missouri native, now living in Tulsa, Oklahoma

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Professional info

I retired at the end of 2014 as editor of theHannibal Courier-Post, Hannibal, Missouri, in order to have more time to pursue my true passion: Writing. I'm happiest when I'm writing stories about ordinary people. Today I am a contributing correspondent to the newspaper, specializing in stories with historical relevance to Hannibal and beyond.

Work experience


Food editor



For 15 years, I was the newspaper's  food editor. In this capacity, I established the "You asked for it!" food column, which generated an interactive conversation with readers in the days before the internet. Readers shared cooking tips and recipes, and I shared my cooking successes and blunders. Readers looked to me as their friend. "Honey," they would say, "I think you made a mistake. It should be 1 egg, not 12!" Once I switched to news editing in 1995, no one called me "honey" anymore. These columns, which also chronicled my children's young lives, were compiled into three soft-cover books, sold in the 1990s.



Fire reporter



I started my journalism career covering fires, and this remains my favorite "beat." My Canon AE1 film camera allowed me to capture the emotion of the fire victims and fire fighters, all the while taking story notes with pencil and paper. The fire chief, who is now Hannibal's mayor, put a helmet on me and allowed me photo access once the danger had passed. In 2011, I voluntarily rebuilt the fire department's scrapbook - originally compiled in a now-crumbling wallpaper sample book - into an archivable keepsake. I made copies for the fire chief/mayor, and for my brother, a retired firefighter.



Tour guide/cashier

Summer of 1972


Like most of my siblings, I worked for M.E. Pennewell's "Twainland Express." In charge of the ticket sales, each night I rectified my cash drawer under Mr. Pennewell's perusal.  A life-long Hannibal businessman, rotund with cigar stub clenched between his teeth, he knew where every dollar went. First, he put the dollars in order of denomination, and then stacked the bills, each face up, into piles. In mid count on one late afternoon, he spontaniously fell asleep, money spread across the table. I finished the task and put the money away.

Grocery store clerk



At the age of 18, I went to work for the Kroger Co., as a checker. Each food item was marked with a price sticker, and I manually typed each price into the register. The calculation of the sales tax was based on a tax chart on the register, and manually  entered. If the power went out, I could pull out the hand crank and keep on working. On a busy Saturday morning, I overcharged a customer by 4 cents. She reported the error to my boss, who in turn issued to me a stern lecture. Not appreciating my reaction to that lecture, he told me there was nothing wrong with my ability, but my personality was the problem. Several years later, when I was a cub reporter at the newspaper, he took me aside and said: "I always knew you'd make something of yourself." Hummmm ...



Hannibal-LaGrange University

Bachelor's degree, 2004


I completed one semester at Northeast Missouri State University at Kirksville, in early 1970, with a 1.7 GPA, due to a  a "D" in typing/shorthand. I resumed my education in early 2000 at Moberly Area Community College, and transferred to Hannibal-LaGrange University that summer. Overcoming that low grade in a course that was no longer offered, I graduated in 2004 with a bachelor's degree in organizational management, cum laude.

Hannibal-LaGrange University

Associate's degree 2003


I needed one PE credit in order to earn an associate's degree, so at the age of 50, I took a weight training class with members of the university's soccer team. Instead of 50 situps, I completed two, but I Aced the written test, to seal my grade.


My cause


Down Syndrome Association of Tulsa, in honor of my beloved grandson, Jonah Hough.



Guest lecturer


Ohio University, Athens

E.W. Scripts School of Journalism

Autumn 2008

Invited by Bill Reader, Associate Professor

Topic: Overcoming the "We don't do dead deer" attitude in the newsroom.

Changing reader apathy into engagement in five easy steps.




• 2010 Editor of the Year for Suburban Newspapers of America, dailies.



Best of Gate-House Media


• First place, Reader Involvement for the series: Historic Marker Missing, Found, Repaired. 

Missouri Press Assn.


• Best Front Page

• Best Story about History, a Free Man of Color, second place

 •Best News Photo, Son/fire chief recovers family photo from fire scene, second place

• Best News or Feature Series, Korean casualty's daughter "comes home," second place

 • Best Story About History, Inside these walls, third place

• Community Service, Historic marker missing, found, repaired, third place

  •Best Breaking News Story, Man escapes from burning house, third place.

 •Best News or Feature Series, Historic marker missing, found, repaired, third place

 • Best Page Design, Lieberman and Greene had local ties & 'checkered' pasts, honorable mention.


2010 - present

2010 - present

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