Ralph Linwood Millett, Jr.

Lived: 1919 - 2000



Knoxville News-Sentinel, Memphis Press-Scimitar


Ralph Linwood Millett, Jr. was the son of one of three original inductees into the Tennessee  Newspaper Hall of Fame. Young Ralph was a frequent visitor to his father's newspaper office. At the age of six, he announced that he wanted to become a newspaper editor.


In the summer of 1941, he spent the summer as a cub reporter for the Memphis Press-Scimitar. After graduating, he joined the Navy, where he served in the Marshall Islands and as an instructor at Pearl Harbor. Between tours of duty during World War II, he returned to Memphis and married his childhood sweetheart, Mary Virginia Smith.


As an editor, Millett toiled tirelessly for open government, working for the rights of citizens to know what goes on inside government closed-door sessions. He chaired several committees and worked with Gov. Winfield Dunn, propelling the Sunshine Law of Tennessee, which was signed into law February 24, 1974. The law inspired other states to pass similar laws and eventually led to a federal Sunshine Law.


Millett was heavily involved in Radio Free Europe, which broadcast unfettered news into European communist countries where news was heavily censored by governments.


A few additional accomplishments included guiding the Knoxville News-Sentinel from lithography to complete computerization and the transformation of the Knoxville News-Sentinel from an afternoon to a morning newspaper.


During his 18-year tenure as editor of the News-Sentinel, Millett served on dozens of community-related organizations. He was one fo the original "Editors-in-Residence" at The University of Tennessee.


Millett retired in 1984, after which he and his wife, Mary Virginia, traveled extensively until her death in 1995.