By Owen Musgrove,
Davis High alumnus Bob Dunning started working at the Davis Enterprise as a sports editor to pay for his tuition to UC Davis Law School.
That was about 10,000 columns and 46 years ago.
Dunning moved to Davis when he was five and never left. A graduate of the class of ‘64, Dunning said he had a average high school experience. He played on the tennis team throughout high school and has been a sports fanatic all his life.
And although English was never his strongest subject, Dunning always loved newspapers.
“I didn’t work for The HUB. I didn’t write for The Aggie [UC Davis’ paper],” he said. “But I read two or three papers every day in college. I was a newspaper junkie.”
And even though he “couldn’t put two sentences together,” Dunning said his favorite class was typing. The class made him a faster typist and prepared him for his job ahead.
Dunning’s knowledge of sports landed him his first job as a sports editor at The Davis Enterprise. He worked about a year in sports until he wrote his first sports column and discovered that he loved the freedom of printing his own ideas.
“I started writing a sports column twice a week,” Dunning said. “I really liked having my opinion out there.”
One day Dunning’s boss called him into his office and offered him the opportunity to be a daily columnist. That was in 1970, and his column, no longer on the sports page, has been daily ever since.
Debbie Davis, editor and assistant publisher of the Enterprise, says the column (called “The Wary I“) was a decision the paper has never regretted. Davis describes Dunning as creative, reliable, fair, accurate and thorough.
“He plays an incredible role in the community and serves as a community conscience,” she said.
Dunning enjoys coming up with story ideas from his home office. He keeps a keen eye on the community; if he spots something ironic or strange, he will focus his column on it.
While others might find it stressful to have a deadline every day, the quick turnaround motivates Dunning.
“There’s always that panic factor. What am I going to do tomorrow?” he said. “There’s something about that deadline staring you in the face that gets the juices flowing.”
The two favorite columns Dunning has written were about when his father passed away and when he took his daughter to college. Dunning says while writing these columns, he was very emotional and conveyed his feelings; people enjoyed them because they were relatable.
Recently, Dunning landed one of the biggest stories of his career. Dunning, a daily Catholic radio show host, was invited to New York by Sirius Satellite Radio’s Catholic Channel, and covered Pope Francis’ visit while he was there.
“What I will remember most from [the Pope’s] trip were the words he spoke from the west balcony of the nation’s Capitol to a large crowd that had gathered,” Dunning said.