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Beverly D. Dunham

Photo of Beverly D. Dunham
1932
Categories: 2014 Alumnae, Community Activism, Journalism

Biography

Beverly Dunham is a pioneer in journalism. Dunham is described as being ahead of her time and a strong role model to many women and young girls growing up in Alaska.

In 1966 Dunham founded the “Seward Phoenix Log” and became a small town newspaper editor and publisher. Unusual for the times, she wrote about all the news and also dealt with the financial side that goes into being the publisher of a small-town newspaper. At the time, women in newspapers in Alaska with larger circulations and also nationally, normally wrote about “women’s” topics such as community events, school boards, cooking, fashion trends, gardening and other local functions. Dunham took on all aspects of her newspaper and set a path for more women to report on the news and be involved with the business side of publishing. Her newspaper also gave high school students an opportunity to do school and sports reporting for publication. Dunham lent her professional expertise to national organizations related to her profession and received recognition for her work. The Seward Phoenix Log has won several state and national writing awards and Dunham’s efforts resulted in the Log receiving the School Bell Award for school reporting. The newspaper would go on to play an important role in keeping the local community involved in local, regional and statewide affairs under Dunham’s leadership during her editor/publisher tenure.

Dunham is known as a woman of strong spirit and vitality. She is a “doer” who is not “too rigid and stuck in the past.” There are many examples of this aspect of Dunham, but probably one of the more notable can be found in Ken Burns’ internationally acclaimed “America’s Best Secret – America’s National Parks” interview in Episode 6 on the Kenai Fjords and the contentious years of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act. Ken Burns narrates: “…..Bev Dunham, the founding publisher of Seward, Alaska’s, weekly newspaper, the Phoenix Log, was initially opposed to the creation of Kenai National Monument near her town. Like most of the residents of Seward, she feared that the establishment of the park would be harmful to the local economy. Her views, along with those of the town’s City Council, would later change when tourism at the national park boosted the town’s economy.” She went on to have business ventures related to tourism and represented Seward nationally on many occasions.

Her impressive public service record spans more than six decades and the list of accomplishments is long. She’s held elected office on the Seward School Board and Seward City Council, even acting as mayor for a time. She’s been appointed and served with distinction on many committees, commissions and volunteer efforts, from planning to tourism to corrections to historical preservation. Her community advocacy has had significant influence in Seward for a very long time.

Dunham was named the 2005 Person of the Year by the Seward Chamber of Commerce and was named one of First Lady Nancy Murkowski’s Persons of the Year.

Today Dunham continues to do a little writing; works on historic preservation projects; is involved in women’s and children’s issues; does some traveling; and enjoys being with her family, grandkids and her 19 great-grandkids! Dunham, due to the love and support from her husband, family and her many friends in Seward as well as all across Alaska, has continued her long and deep commitment to Seward and to the State of Alaska.