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Weekly 150

The Washburns (Part III): Joel Trent Washburn

Posted 1/28/20

The Washburn family legacy started in 1948 when James L. Washburn returned home from his military service in Japan and took employment under J. Frank Barlow. The second generation of newspaper publishing Washburns brings the story to James and Ramona’s second son Joel Trent Washburn.

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Weekly 150

The Washburns (Part III): Joel Trent Washburn

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The Washburn family legacy started in 1948 when James L. Washburn returned home from his military service in Japan and took employment under J. Frank Barlow. The second generation of newspaper publishing Washburns brings the story to James and Ramona’s second son Joel Trent Washburn.

Joel was born January 26, 1957, in Dr. Edwards’ office across the street from the Banner office. He often jokes about being born across the street, “I was born in the back of a service station across the street and made it this far.”

His career at The McKenzie Banner began in the 1960s where he swept the floors once a week. From there, he was promoted to a bicycle paper route and selling copies of the paper at the pajama factory. Eventually, he would do odd jobs around the print shop that included running the hand-fed letterpress (now located in front of the office and used as a mailbox).

While attending McKenzie High School, Joel made pictures of school events with his Mamiya camera. He carried the camera to school every day so the paper didn’t have to send anyone.

His responsibilities included covering basketball games. His girlfriend at the time, Teresa Brawner, would sit in the stands watching her future husband take photos.

He was not only the school photographer; he was a member of the marching band, student council officer, and represented McKenzie High School in 1974 at the American Legion Boy’s State.

Joel graduated from McKenzie in 1975 and continued his education at Union University in Jackson. Before arriving on the Union campus, in June of 1975, he was a Congressional Page in the U.S. Capitol for Congressman Ed Jones.

While still attending Union, he began working at The Moore Studio under Mitch Carter. Everyone in West Tennessee knew Mitch and with his new “partner in crime”, soon everyone knew Joel Washburn. While with The Moore Studio, Joel was a general photographer serving as yearbook photographers for 21 West Tennessee high schools and the pageant photographers for the Miss Tennessee Pageant in 1977 and 1978.

In 1979 Joel graduated from Union University with a degree in business administration with a double minor in journalism and computer science. Following graduation, he was pursued by his father, James, to join him at The McKenzie Banner. He was responsible for advertising, news writing, and photography.

With a steady job, Joel married his high school sweetheart on April 18, 1981.

In 1982, James began treatment for his brain tumor. Joel was promoted to managing editor of The McKenzie Banner, managing the papers day-to-day responsibilities. The same year, the elder Washburn transferred a few shares Tri-County Publishing, Inc. (TCP) to the two sons, Jeff and Joel.

In February 1985, with the death of his father, Joel took on more responsibilities with TCP. It was his responsibility to continue paying his father’s banknote following buy-out of co-owner Karl Barlow, and continue the integrity of the McKenzie publication. The same year, the Washburn family grew with the birth of Joel and Teresa’s daughter Brittany.

Throughout his life in McKenzie, Joel has worn many hats. These include president of the Tennessee Press Association (2014), adjunct professor of Bethel University - teaching business and photography, vice-chairman of the McKenzie Industrial Board, original stockholder of Briarwood Inn now the Best Western-McKenzie, original stockholder Internet Services of West Tenn (the service that brought Internet to Carroll County; now Earthlink), founding member of the Board of Carl Perkins Center for the Prevention of Child Abuse — Carroll County, founding member of the Board of United Way of Carroll County.

He has served as chairman of the Chamber of Commerce when the new headquarters was constructed, a trustee of Union University, an EMT, a volunteer firefighter, a graduate of WestStar Leadership (class of 1991), first chairman of Youth Leadership Carroll County.

As a civic leader in McKenzie, he was a member of the McKenzie Lions Club and served as president of that organization in 1983-84. Currently, he is the president of the McKenzie Rotary Club serving since July of 2019. Joel is the second generation of four to be named Paul Harris Fellows by the McKenzie Rotary Club; this includes James and Ramona Washburn, Teresa Washburn, Jason and Brittany Martin, and Charles “CJ” Martin.

In April 2015, Ramona sold her shares of Tri-County Publishing to her sons, Joel and Jeff. Joel took over the position of publisher of The McKenzie Banner and Dresden Enterprise. Four years later, in September 2019, Joel became the sole owner of Tri-County Publishing, Inc.

The legacy of the Washburns at The McKenzie Banner still grows. Next week, I will conclude the Washburn story with a third and fourth generation of Washburns to work and grow up in the newspaper industry.

Jason R. Martin

B.S. • M.A.Ed • MLS

Councilman, Ward II

Rotary Dist. 6760, Asst. Governor

WestStar Class of 2019

P: 731.352.3323

E: jmartin@mckenziebanner.com

Jason Martin is a life-long resident of McKenzie. He graduated from McKenzie High School in 2000; earned a Bachelor of Science in History from Bethel College in 2004; a Masters in Education from Bethel University in 2009 and a Masters in History and Humanities from Fort Hays State University in 2011.

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