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NEWS: Late, Lamented Dave Aeikens Awarded Wells Memorial Key

The Society of Professional Journalists has honored the late Dave Aeikens with the Wells Memorial Key, its highest honor for  members.

Aeikens, a cornerstone of local journalism, served the profession in many capacities, including as the Society of Professional Journalists’s national president from 2008-2009. He also served as Region 6 director, president of the Minnesota Pro Chapter, chair of the Legal Defense Fund, and longtime board member for the Sigma Delta Chi Foundation, now the SPJ Foundation. He also volunteered for other journalism organizations and initiatives, and was one of the founding organizers of the Midwest Journalism Conference. (MJC is held by SPJ Region 6, in conjunction with other media organizations.)

Aiekens died on Nov. 24, 2021 of complications from a liver condition, and is warmly remembered by colleagues. “SPJ is a richer and stronger organization because Dave gave it his all,” said SPJ National President Rebecca Aguilar. “He was passionate about journalism, committed to making sure we journalists were treated fairly, and always the stellar storyteller.”

In their letter nominating Aeikens, Kevin Smith (Aeikens’ successor as SPJ national president) and Joe Radske (the current Region 6 coordinator) described Aeiken’s service to the society as “long, honorable and certainly distinguishable”, lauding his leadership after the death of SPJ executive director Terry Harper in 2009. Aeikens was also credited as the father of the Excellence in Journalism convention.

A graduate of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Aeikens began his career in southern Minnesota at the Albert Lea Tribune, his hometown newspaper. He  later the West Central Tribune in Willmar, Minnesota, and eventually the St. Cloud Times, where he worked as a reporter, editor and digital journalist. He later served as a digital journalist for KSTP, the ABC affiliate in the Twin Cities, before managing communications for the Minnesota Department of Transportation. A highly respected colleague, his death was reported by the Star Tribune and others.

Aeikens was honored at the President’s Award Banquet at MediaFest22, the SPJ’s annual convention. The award will be sent his parents and was accepted on their behalf by his good friends Smith and Radske.

Named for Chester C. Wells, the second president of the Society, the Wells Memorial Key is awarded to an SPJ member who has performed outstanding service to the Society in the preceding year or through a period of years. Read more about the selection process and previous winners.

Twin Cities Arts Reader