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Published January 14 2010

Forum city editor during ’57 tornado dies in Texas

Wallace “Wally” Lindell, an editor at The Forum during the 1957 tornado who later served as press secretary for a U.S. agriculture secretary, died Friday.

Lindell, 88, was living in San Antonio, where two of his daughters reside, after retiring from an eventful career in journalism.

Lindell was a 36-year-old city editor when the devastating tornado struck and had a key role in the newspaper’s coverage of the event, which won a Pulitzer Prize.

He had been home eating dinner with his wife and children the night of the June 20, 1957, tornado.

He spent the next 2½ days shaping the newspaper’s coverage of the aftermath. The entire newsroom was immersed in getting out the story, Dr. Jane Hughes of San Antonio, one of Lindell’s daughters, said Wednesday.

“They really deserved the Pulitzer,” she said, adding that he kept photographs of Forum staff members involved from the time. “He loved the newspaper,” she said.

The late Cal Olson, a Forum photographer and managing editor who took an iconic photo of a child who died from injuries in the tornado, credited Lindell’s efforts in a history of The Forum.

Lindell “orchestrated our coverage, sitting there all the while as though it were a quiet Monday morning, keeping everyone on target, working the copy and making the whole thing go,” Olson, who died in July at the age of 84, once recalled.

In 1967, Lindell went to work for Orville Freeman, U.S. agriculture secretary during the presidency of Lyndon Johnson. Freeman was a former Minnesota governor.

Lindell’s funeral was Monday.