She was a Washington correspondent and Tyler native, and she was known for asking Presidents the tough questions. Sarah McClendon died Wednesday in Washington D.C. of pneumonia. She was 92. McClendon was a pioneer in journalism, especially for women. She began her career at the Tyler Morning Telegraph in 1931, also working at the Beaumont Enterprise. McClendon's aggressive nature led her to Washington in 1944 where she covered the White House for the Philadelphia Daily News. McClendon also started her own news service writing a weekly newspaper column, a bi-weekly newsletter and a popular radio commentary aired on 1200 stations.
Colleagues here in East Texas say McClendon kept writing almost to the very end. Channel 7's Dana Dixon sat down with Sarah McClendon's closest relative in East Texas to find out more about the lady known for shouting, "Mr. President, Mr. President".
Anne McClendon, Sarah McClendon's niece said, "Growing up I think she was a very shy young lady." But Sarah McClendon, the journalist, was anything but shy. Her niece also remembers the self-professed citizen's journalist, always wanting to fight for what was right in Washington.
"She talked all the time about all the work that needed to be done, always busy doing something to help other people, she loved helping all people."
"There are so many stories up there that haven't been written so many stories that need to be investigated and I'm doing my best." The Bonner Whitaker McClendon house is where it all began for Sarah, she was one of nine children, her mother a Suffregette paving the way for Sarah to be a pioneer in journalist. She went with my grandmother to the Suffregette meetings and I think that's what started off her ability to stand up. She would come back from one of those meetings and give little mini speeches. Sarah's best started at the Tyler Morning Telegraph. Then, the only woman hard news reporter. She was a pioneer in that respect. She intended to be that type when she was working for different Texas newspapers. Calvin Clyde Junior was just a rookie reporter when he saw Sarah take hold of her first big story in 1937.
"The New London school explosion was the biggest." By 1944, Sarah's aggressive style landed her a job in Washington, D.C. to report for the Philadelphia News. And take on every President from F.D.R. to Bill Clinton and President Bush. "I think they were afraid of her some of them."
But Anne says her Aunt Sarah, the person, had something kind to say about every President. Til the end of her 92 years Sarah McClendon, the journalist, never admitted to being a Democrat or a Republican, her niece says she was for all of them.
Dana Dixon, reporting.