Robert Bruce Atwood
March 31, 1907
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||January 10, 1997 (aged 89)|
Anchorage, Alaska, U.S.
|Alma mater||Clark University|
Robert Bruce "Bob" Atwood (March 31, 1907 – January 10, 1997) was an American journalist who served as the long-time editor and publisher of the Anchorage Times. He was also an early advocate of Alaska statehood.
Robert Bruce Atwood, known as Bob Atwood or Robert Atwood, was born March 31, 1907 in Chicago, Illinois. He graduated from Clark University, and in 1932, married social worker Evangeline Atwood (née Rasmuson). They had two daughters, Marilyn and Elaine.
Anchorage Times and Alaska statehood
Atwood moved to Anchorage, Alaska in 1935. With the help of his father-in-law, he purchased the struggling Anchorage Daily Times. Under his guidance, it became Alaska's largest daily newspaper.
In 1949, the Alaska Territorial Legislature formed the Alaska Statehood Committee, appointing Atwood as Chairman. His pro-statehood lobbying efforts included visits to Washington, D.C. and a steady stream of articles in his newspaper, such as a 1955 editorial where he argued that whereas commonwealth status was "wonderful" for Puerto Rico, "it wouldn't give Alaskans self-government, control of resources, tax exemptions or any of a number of benefits claimed by its supporters here."
In 1954, Atwood partnered with brother-in-law Elmer E. Rasmuson to invest in the lease of potential oil fields on the Kenai Peninsula. The investment generated a fortune after Richfield Oil Corporation discovered oil in 1957 near the Swanson River.
On January 3, 1959, Atwood was present (along with Senator Bob Bartlett and Ernest Gruening, Representative Ralph Julian Rivers and Territorial Governor Waino Hendrickson and Mike Stepovich) in the Cabinet Room when President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the proclamation that made Alaska the 49th state admitted into the United States.
In 1962, Atwood endowed the Atwood Foundation to promote education and the arts. In 1979, he established the Atwood Chair of Journalism at the University of Alaska Anchorage.
The Alaska Center for the Performing Arts was constructed in 1989, with the largest performance space designated as the Evangeline Atwood Concert Hall.
In 1990, Robert Atwood stepped down as editor and sold the Anchorage Times to oil tycoon Bill Allen.
At the time of his death, Robert Atwood was collaborating with journalist John Strohmeyer on a biography. After Atwood's death, Strohmeyer completed the work under the title Alaska Titan. But before it could be published, Atwood's daughter, Elaine, sued to prevent it from being distributed. In 1999, Strohmeyer and Elaine Atwood entered into an agreement giving Elaine Atwood two years to produce her own biography, to be entitled Bob Atwood's Alaska. Bob Atwood's Alaska did not appear until after Elaine Atwood's death in 2003.
- "LitSite Alaska | Industry > Media and Communications > Robert Bruce Atwood - 1907-1997". www.litsitealaska.org. Retrieved 2020-01-07.
- "Atwood family papers, Archives and Special Collections, Consortium Library, University of Alaska Anchorage."
- Profile from the Anchorage Daily News' "Alaska Scrapbook"[permanent dead link]
- Profile at "Alaskans for Statehood"
- "Commonwealth Not For Alaska"
- Atwood, Robert B. Bob Atwood's Alaska: The Memoirs of a Legendary Newspaper Man 2003 (ISBN 0-9740036-1-1)