Last modified on December 5, 2022, at 16:30

Dale Thorn

Jesse Dale Thorn​

(Louisiana journalist and
academic; press secretary
to Governor Edwin Edwards)​

Dale Thorn of LA.jpg

Born October 7, 1942​
Brandon, Rankin County,
Mississippi, USA​

Reared in West Monroe,
Ouachita Parish, Louisiana

Died May 8, 2014 (aged 71)​
Ridgeland, Madison County
Spouse (1) Peggy A. Thorn (married 1971-1974, divorced)​

(2) Diane Taylor Thorn (divorced)
later Diane Caldarera (born April 1942) of Bossier City, Louisiana
No children
Reverend James B. and Ola Reid Thorn
Alma mater:
Ouachita Parish High School
University of Louisiana at Monroe
Louisiana State University
Florida State University

Religion Southern Baptist

Military Service
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
Years of service 1960-1964

Jesse Dale Thorn, usually known as Dale Thorn or as J. Dale Thorn (October 7, 1942 – May 8, 2014), was a journalist and professor at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who was the first press secretary to Edwin Edwards,[1] a U.S. Representative and Democrat who served as governor for four nonconsecutive terms.


​ A native of Brandon in suburban Rankin County, Mississippi, Thorn was the younger of two sons of the Reverend James B. Thorn (1909-1979) and the former Ola Reid (1914-2001), who are interred at Lynn Cemetery in Archibald in Richland Parish, Louisiana.[2] Thorn was reared in West Monroe, Louisiana, and graduated in 1960 from Ouachita Parish High School in Monroe.[3]


Thorn enlisted in the United States Marine Corps, with service from 1960 to 1964. Thereafter, he obtained his undergraduate degree in Journalism from the University of Louisiana at Monroe, then known as Northeast Louisiana State College, and his master's in journalism from Louisiana State University, where he was later a professor. He subsequently obtained a Ph.D. in higher education administration from Florida State University in Tallahassee, Florida.[4]

Thorn's newspaper career began at the Monroe News-Star, then known as The Monroe Morning World, at which he reported on government, politics, and the state capital. He subsequently was an editor of The Shreveport Times in Shreveport. Both publications were then owned by the family of John Dunbrack Ewing (1892-1952). He was named the press secretary to U.S. Representative and Governor Edwin Edwards. He continued as the press spokesman well into Edwards' second term as governor and in that capacity became acquainted with many of the leading journalists in the state.[4]

Thorn once observed that the southern press in the 1960s rarely reported on crimes against African Americans: "The metro press really didn't cover that type of thing." A case in point was the burning death of Frank Morris, who operated a shoe repair shop in Ferriday in Concordia Parish, an unsolved racially motivated killing.[5]​ ​ Upon leaving the Edwards administration, Thorn joined the staff of the Louisiana Board of Regents and became associate commissioner for higher education. He worked to settle a dispute between the state and the United States Department of Justice over desegregation of higher education in Louisiana. He then joined the administration of Northwestern State University in Natchitoches as vice president for academic affairs. He returned to LSU in Baton Rouge to teach journalism and public relations as professor in residence with an endowed scholarship at the Douglas Manship School of Mass Communication. He retired from LSU in 2000 and relocated to his native Brandon near Jackson, the Mississippi state capital.[4]​​


Thorn died in 2014 of Parkinson's disease while in hospice care in Ridgeland in Madison County, Mississippi. He was a Southern Baptist. He is interred at Port Hudson National Cemetery in Zachary in East Baton Rouge Parish.[3] He was survived by his brother, Truett Noris Thorn (1935-2020), [6] and Truett's second wife, the former Brenda Gremillion; the couple had retired to Denham Springs in Livingston Parish. Truett Thorn was a softball coach at West Monroe High School​ who was elected in 1966 as a Democrat to the West Monroe City Council under then Mayor Bert Hatten, also an alumnus of the Monroe newspapers.[7]​ Truett Thorn, a veteran of the United States Air Force, is also interred at Port Hudson Natonal Cemetery.[8]

Former state Senator Armand Brinkhaus, a Democrat from Sunset in St. Landry Parish who served from 1968 to 1996, wrote that his own recollection of Thorn "goes back to his work with Edwin Edwards in Congress ... He was a remarkable man, inventive, a leader, and a survivor. May God bless him and his family."[4]


  • "When a Trial Threatens to Merge Small Universities: The Role of Litigation Public Relations in a Federal Desegregation Case" Innovative Higher Education, Vol. 22, No. 2.[9]
  • "Journal of Customer Service in Marketing and Management," Journal: Public Relations Review, Vol. 22, No. 3, pp. 315–316, 1996.[10]
  • Essay in Coming Home to Mississippi by Jo McDivitt, an anthology of prominent Mississippians who returned to their native state in their later years.[11]


  1. Obituary of Dr. Jesse Dale Thorn. The Ouachita Citizen (May 14, 2014). Retrieved on July 3, 2020.
  2. Ola R. Thorn. Retrieved on July 3, 2020.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Jesse Dale Thorn. Retrieved on July 3, 2020.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Jesse Dale Thorn. The Baton Rouge Advocate. Retrieved on July 3, 2020.
  5. Matthew Barnidge, LSU student media, Small-town paper calls attention to unsolved civil-rights killings," Lafourche Parish Daily Comet, December 25, 2009.
  6. A1C Truett Noris Thorn. Retrieved on July 3, 2020.
  7. The Lake Charles American Press, June 15, 1966, p. 10.
  8. Truett Thorn obituary. The Baton Rouge Advocate (February 4, 2020). Retrieved on July 3, 2020.
  9. "When a Trial Threatens to Merge Small Universities: The Role of Litigation Public Relations in a Federal Desegregation Case (1997),, accessed May 17, 2014; no longer available on-line.
  10. "Journal of Customer Service in Marketing and Management,", accessed May 17, 2014.
  11. Jo McDivitt, Coming Home to Mississippi, cited in The Magee News, April 18, 2014.