Frank Telleen remembered as a class act and great role model

Posted Online: Jan. 15, 2013, 8:43 pm
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By John Marx,
I could imagine the late Frank Telleen's routine when the newspaper reached his doorstep or his desktop each day.

Meticulously, and with great care and attention to detail, he'd read each section, word for word, sometimes two and three times.When you are a crack reporter/editor and a college director of information services, you understand the importance of details.

Frank Telleen never missed a detail.

He was also kind, attentive, thorough and dedicated to his craft. Mr. Telleen, who passed away recently at age 94, played a role in the development of many people in my business and others in the information-services world. Whether you were in his charge or just a cub reporter who flubbed a simple sports fact in a story about a college basketball game, Mr. Telleen was always there to help. And he did so in a way that made you better at your craft.

There is no finer sports-information director than Augustana College's Dave Wrath. It's been that way since Mr. Wrath -- also associate athletics director at Augustana -- began his SID career in 1981.

He did so under the watchful and caring eye of Mr. Telleen, arguably the most important influence on Mr. Wrath's career at Augustana.

"Frank never took a minute off from being a first-class gentleman or ambassador of Augustana,'' Mr. Wrath said of Mr. Telleen, who graduated from Augustana College in 1939 and earned a master's degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. "He treated people with dignity and class. ''
Mr. Telleen also worked for brief periods at weekly newspapers in Galva and Carthage, Ill., then joined the staff of The Rock Island Argus, serving 15 years as a reporter and state editor. In 1958, he became director of information services at Augustana College. He remained with the college for more than 27 years.
Mr. Telleen's guidance left its mark on Mr. Wrath and influenced how he guides youngsters who pass through his office.

"I will never forget the first release I wrote back in February of 1981,'' Mr. Wrath recalled.
"Frank called me into his office, and he sat me down and went over it line by line. When he got done, there was more red ink than black ink on the piece, but behind every mark, there was an explanation and a rationale about why we did it this particular way. It was at that moment that I realized that this man was a perfect role model for me.'

Mr. Wrath says Mr. Telleen had a blue-collar work ethic with white-collar refinement. He was detail-oriented, understood the craft of being the lead public-relations officer and embraced the responsibility that came with it. He also had the unique talent to convey that message to those around him.

" His philosophy was fairly simple: Be honest, be accurate and be timely,'' Mr. Wrath said. "Great words to live by.''

Columnist John Marx can be reached at (309) 757-8388 or


Local events heading

  Today is Monday, Sept. 1, the 244th day of 2014. There are 121 days left in the year.

1864 -- 150 years ago: We are informed by J.H. Hull that the reason the street sprinkler was not at work yesterday settling the dust on the streets, was because one of his horses was injured.
1889 -- 125 years ago: Bonnie McGregor, a fleet-footed stallion owned by S.W. Wheelock of this community, covered himself with glory at Lexington, Ky, when he ran a mile in 2:13 1/2. The horse's value was estimated as at least $50,000.
1914 -- 100 years ago: Troops are pouring into Paris to prepare for defense of the city. The German army is reported to be only 60 miles from the capital of France.
1939 -- 75 years ago: The German army has invaded Poland in undeclared warfare. Poland has appealed to Great Britain and France for aid.
1964 -- 50 years ago: Publication of a plant newspaper, the Farmall Works News, has been launched at the Rock Island IHC factory and replaces a managerial newsletter.
1989 -- 25 years ago: Officials predict Monday's Rock Island Labor Parade will be the biggest and best ever. Last minute work continues on floats and costumes for the parade, which steps off a 9:30 a.m.

(More History)