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Legendary White House correspondent to talk at UH Hilo

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Date: Monday, September 16, 2002
Contact: Alyson Kakugawa-Leong, (808) 974-7642

For Immediate Release

Cover of Helen Thomas' book ("Thanks for the Memories, Mr. President:Wit and Wisdom from the Front Row at the White House")

Helen Thomas, known as the "dean" of the White House press corps, will give a public talk at the University of Hawai'i at Hilo on Wednesday, September 25, from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. in the main lecture hall, Room 100, of the new University Classroom Building. A half-hour book signing will follow the talk.

Thomas, one of America's most famous journalists, will be sharing her new memoir, Thanks for the Memories, Mr. President: Wit and Wisdom from the Front Row at the White House. The book, a natural follow-up to her best-selling memoir Front Row at the White House, presents a personal, anecdotal look at presidential history.

Thomas, whom CBS anchor Dan Rather calls "a hero of journalism," started as a copy girl on the now defunct Washington Daily News. In 1943, she joined United Press International and the Washington Press Corps. For 12 years, Thomas wrote radio news stories for UPI, eventually covering the federal government, including the FBI and Capitol Hill.

In 1960, Thomas began covering president-elect John F. Kennedy, following him to the White House in January 1961. It was then that Thomas began closing presidential press conferences with "Thank you, Mr. President," a gracious signal to both the president and the corps that the conference was over.

A fixture in the front row of presidential news conferences, Thomas went on to cover nine administrations, serving as a UPI correspondent for 57 years. She became UPI's White House bureau chief in 1974, the first woman to hold such a position. Thomas was the only female print journalist to travel with Nixon to China on his ground breaking trip in January 1972. She subsequently circled the globe several times with presidents Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Clinton and Bush.

Following her retirement from UPI in May 2000, Thomas began writing as a columnist for Hearst Newspapers. In Thanks for the Memories, she writes that when offered her own column, she said, "Why not? After all those years of telling it like it is, now I can tell it how I want it to be." The column, "Front Row," is carried locally on the opinion page of the Hawai`i Tribune-Herald.

A limited quantity of Thanks for the Memories, Mr. President: Wit and Wisdom from the Front Row at the White House (Scribner, $24) will be available for purchase at the talk.

The public is asked to enter the UH Hilo campus at the main entrance on West Kawili Street; parking is $2.

For additional information, please call the Office of the Chancellor at (808) 974-7444.

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