Marjorie Ann Arnold, a 44-year member of The Fresno Bee’s editorial department and a “Rosie the Riveter” during World War II, died Aug. 27 at the age of 95.
Ms. Arnold played a significant but largely unsung role in almost every major local news story The Bee published during those years, as a member of the editorial department’s library staff.
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Ms. Arnold took part in another occupation of note. During World War II she was a “Rosie the Riveter” – women who helped with the war effort – working as a crew chief making fuselage sections for B-17 bombers in a Fresno plant for a Los Angeles manufacturer. Ironically, her brother, Joseph R. Arnold, was killed when a B-17 he was piloting crashed into a Colorado mountainside during a wartime training exercise.
“She made it sound like it was her duty,” says nephew Joe Arnold about her service during WWII. “That’s what everyone from that generation was all about. They did what they had to do to save the world.”
Ms. Arnold later became head librarian at The Fresno Bee. In an era before computers, the librarians were responsible for clipping significant items, both long and short, from each day’s publication, permanently storing them in The Bee’s banks of information on individuals or subjects.
The files, covering nearly a third of the newsroom’s floor space, were one of the major sources of information in Fresno. Ms. Arnold headed the group and was responsible for the completeness of “the clips” during most of those years.
Ms. Arnold applied for a reporter’s job to H.R. McLaughlin, The Bee’s founding managing editor, in 1946. McLaughlin, noted for quick decisions, said the job was filled but would she consider a post on the library staff? She would and remained in the newspaper’s service for more than four decades. She retired in 1990.
“McLaughlin proved once again that he recognized ability and continuity when it walked in his door,” said George F. Gruner, retired executive editor, her longtime co-worker and friend.
People who knew her, they would use the adjectives ‘amazing, graceful, kind’ – and she always had beautiful hair.
After retirement Marjorie Arnold became a world traveler, visiting many continents.
She was a longtime guardian of homeless cats and maintained a support station at her home, at one time providing food for as many as 30 felines. She also financed neuter operations to qualify the cats for adoption.
Joe Arnold remembers his aunt as a “fiercely independent” and private person who was humble and kind.
“She was an incredible woman,” Arnold says, “and the family felt very blessed and grateful to have her as our matriarch for the past 20 years since our mom died. She epitomized graciousness.”
Staff writer Carmen George contributed
George F. Gruner’s 46-year newspaper career included 33 years at The Bee, where he retired as executive editor.
Born: April 10, 1922
Died: Aug. 27, 2017
Occupation: Former newsroom librarian
Survivors: Nephew Joe Arnold; nieces Jacqueline Arnold, Kymberly Stoudt, Su Arnold and Kathryn Arnold Kadletz.
Memorial service: 1:30 p.m. Sept. 24 at The Terraces at San Joaquin Gardens, 5555 N. Fresno St. Fresno.
Remembrances: Cat House on the Kings, 7120 S. Kings River Road, Parlier CA 93648, or online at cathouseonthekings.com.