The newspaperman who helped save Rushford

A canoe sits on a street in Rushford, Minn., Monday, Aug. 20, 2007, after the town was inundated by a flood. Andy Manis / AP

Myron J. Schober, 78, has died, the Rochester Post Bulletin reports.

Schober was an old-school newspaperman and says the most important words “I ever did” were these:

Rushford, Pawlenty’s Katrina

Think about that for a moment. This was a guy who was in Vietnam and survived a helicopter crash, not to mention covering more than 2,000 City Council meetings in his area.

But three words mattered to him more than all of that because they made a big difference in his city.

The headline (and article) that blared from his Tri County Record newspaper brought attention to a flash flood that killed seven people in southeast Minnesota.

He’s a vanishing specimen: the local newspaper owner with a long dedication of putting his community above everything else.

Here’s an example from a 2012 Post Bulletin profile:

When then Gov. Tim Pawlenty dawdled about calling a special legislative session to help the town (and many other towns) that was swamped with damaged or destroyed buildings, Myron wrote the powerful headline: “Rushford: Pawlenty’s Katrina” referring to the political trouble former President Bush got into for his handling of the damage from Hurricane Katrina.

“Those were the three most important words I ever did,” he said. “It was a headline heard round the world” and helped get the legislative session, and more help.

“The award was nice but the real reward was to the town and the readers,” Myron said.

That is vintage Myron Schober — low-key, self-effacing, not one to strut but also one to speak the truth as he sees it. “I’m not a bragger or swaggerer; I’d rather be chief of staff than commander,” he said.

Schober cranked out the Tri County Recorder even though its offices were destroyed in the flood. He put out a call for reporters to help write stories, and reporters and citizens responded.

His headline and column were picked up by newspapers around the state, who joined in a blistering condemnation of the Pawlenty administration’s inaction.

Said the Winona Daily News at the time:

Myron Schober knows what he’s talking about. For the past three weeks, he’s relived the floods personally and professionally.

In addition to the floodwaters wiping out his newspaper office, the editor/publisher has heard the tales time and time again from the community he’s covered for nearly three decades. And after three weeks of waiting, and as he sees neighbors and businesses leave Rushford without coming back, he’s calling this Pawlenty’s Katrina.

We have to wonder what beyond petty political motives is going on here. Is it because of some worry he might be forced into signing a tax increase? Well, if it’s an increase in taxes to help our fellow Minnesotans rebuild their lives, it’s money well spent. It seems like Pawlenty cares more about political ideology than people.

Within a few days, the administration and the Legislature had a flood-relief package for the area. Politicians are no match for a local newspaper owner whose priority is giving a damn about the people in town.