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Durango, CO

Morley Cowles Ballantine, publisher and editor of the Durango (CO) Herald and a granddaughter of former Des Moines Register publisher Gardner Cowles, died October 10, 2009, at age 84. The cause was respiratory failure.

She was a former trustee of Simpson College and the Gardner and Florence Call Cowles Foundation. Mrs. Ballantine was born in Des Moines on May 21, 1925 and attended Greenwood Elementary. Her parents, John and Elizabeth Bates Cowles, lived on Tonawanda Dr. In 1935, John Cowles purchased the Minneapolis Star, a six day daily, and the family moved to Minneapolis. He quickly controlled and consolidated the competing Journal and the Tribune, in 1941, publishing the morning Minneapolis Tribune and the afternoon Minneapolis Star. The Cowles family sold those papers, which had been merged, in 1998. In 1952, Morley Cowles Ballantine and her husband, Arthur A. Ballantine Jr., who had been editor of the Harvard Crimson, purchased a daily and a weekly newspaper in Durango, CO. Under their leadership The Durango Herald championed educational and cultural causes and promoted progressive government. Morley Cowles Ballantine won numerous awards for her writing, which included family topics and a lovelorn column along with strong stands on national and international issues. She served on Colorado state judicial nomination and land use planning commissions, advocated for Planned Parenthood in Colorado and in Iowa, and was a founding member of the League of Women Voters in Durango. She was also generous in her philanthropy.

Arthur A. Ballantine Jr. died in 1975. A son Richard succeeded her as publisher in 1983, but she was the paper's editor and chaired its board of directors until her death.

Morley Cowles Ballantine attended Smith College and Stanford University and graduated at age 50 from Fort Lewis College in Durango.

She is survived by sons, Richard of Durango and William of Seattle; daughters, Elizabeth of McLean, Virginia and Helen of Wichita, Kansas; and nine grandchildren. Also surviving are brothers, John and Russell in Minneapolis; and a sister, Sarah in Northampton, Massachusetts.

Published in Des Moines Register on Oct. 14, 2009
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