BY CINDY A. JONES
Since we’re focusing on community influencers in this issue, let’s also look to the past for inspiration. Flora Ogan, a longtime Roy resident, was the second woman ever to hold the position of city editor for a daily newspaper west of the Mississippi. Flora was born in 1928 in Ogden. Daughter of H.D. Sparrow, owner of Roy’s prominent furniture business, Flora was the only daughter in her household, no doubt learning early on how to make her voice heard in a family full of brothers.
During WWII, Flora worked for Mountain Bell and was assigned to Wendover as a PBX operator. When the war ended, she came back to Ogden and moved to Roy in 1952, working as a secretary and bookkeeper at her family’s furniture store.
In 1953, with a penchant for writing, Flora took a correspondent position with the Ogden Standard Examiner, covering news in the rapidly growing city. With an efficient but evocative writing style, Flora increasingly took on more significant stories as a correspondent and was promoted to a reporter position in 1960. She filled a variety of assignments in this role, ranging from reporting on the Ogden City and Weber County school boards, covering notes from several cities’ city council meetings, and community church editor.
In November 1969, Flora was appointed City Editor of the Ogden Standard Examiner, having actively filled the role since May of the same year. Well into the 1980s, Flora was the only female city editor of a daily newspaper in the Intermountain region.
Flora utilized the newspaper’s editorials to promote causes like the Ogden City and Weber County government reform, construction of the Weber County Fairgrounds, and the Union Station and 25th Street restoration. As a leader in the newspaper industry, Flora was one of only seven journalists-the only woman in the group- chosen to accompany the 388th Tactical Fighter Wing on a training mission to Germany in 1977.
In 1982, Flora stepped into the role of associate editor for the Standard Examiner, eventually assuming the role of editorial page editor, a position rarely occupied by a woman at any major daily newspaper at the time.
Throughout her career, Flora served on many boards and committees, including a task force to save the Defense Depot Ogden and the Base Realignment and Closure committee that helped save Hill Air Force Base. She was also one of the founders of Women in Business, bringing the national Women in Business conference to Ogden in 1985.
As Flora retired in 1996, she published a farewell in the Standard Examiner. In the article, Flora is examining some of the artifacts she had collected in her career, now packed in boxes. She reflects on a plaque gifted to her from a friend when she accepted the role of city editor, with the inscription A man of equality is not threatened by a woman of equality.
Flora was quietly intimidated at taking on this new role. “I was timid -yes many find that difficult to believe-not yet comfortable with writing opinion or facing up to the powerful movers and shakers, all male, of that era…The gift held great meaning to a fledgling editorial writer and fed her desire to mentor other women climbing the career ladder.”
Flora passed away in 2015, after a 40-year career in journalism and a lifetime of trailblazing the journalism scene for women everywhere.