Famed Winchester journalist to be inducted into Ky. Writers Hall of Fame

Longtime White House correspondent Helen Thomas, one of Winchester’s most famous residents, will be inducted into the Kentucky Writers Hall of Fame next week.

Thomas, who passed away in 2013 at age 92, will be inducted along with novelist Sue Grafton, journalist Alice Allison Dunnigan, former Kentucky poet laureate Jane Vance, and Gurney Norman and Ed McClanaham, two of the “Merry Pranksters.” McClanahan is also a former Kentucky poet laureate.

According to the Carnegie Center and the Kentucky Arts Council, the hall of fame is for “Kentucky writers whose work reflects the character and culture of the commonwealth, and to educate Kentuckians about our state’s rich literary heritage.” To be eligible for induction, the writer must be published, someone whose writing is of “enduring stature” and has a significant connection to Kentucky.

Thomas was born in Winchester in 1920, but moved to Detroit with her family when she was 4. She began working for United Press International, a major news wire service at the time, when she was 23 covering women’s issues, but was later assigned to cover the justice department and the FBI.

In 1960, she was assigned to cover President-elect John F. Kennedy, which began nearly six decades of covering the White House. She became the first female White House bureau chief in 1974.

Thomas worked for UPI until 2000 when it was sold, before being hired at a columnist for Hearst Corp. She continued as the senior member of the White House press corps, closing press conferences with, “Thank you, Mr. President.”

Thomas covered nine presidents during her career and was known for her tough questioning and for her strong opinions. She was also the first female officer of the National Press Club and the first female president of the White House Correspondents’ Association.

The induction ceremony will be at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 30 at the Kentucky Theater, 214 E. Main St., Lexington. The event is free.