Roger Clawson

Recent Posts

Prairie Lights: No more room for once-innocent traditions


I won’t come right out and blame the current occupant of the White House, but a phenomenon already indelibly associated with his presidency has caused me to make an important decision about the future of Last Best News. At least temporarily, and perhaps forever, we will not be running any more fake news. I say this with a heavy heart because April Fool’s Day is just six weeks away, and photographer John Warner and I had already been talking about ideas for this year’s spoof. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Final resting place for Roger Clawson

roger clawson

From Sharie Pyke comes word of a fundraising effort to pay for a headstone for the grave of Roger Clawson, a longtime Billings Gazette reporter, columnist and editor and a columnist for the Billings Outpost for 15 years. Clawson’s ashes were buried March 29 at Custer Cemetery in his hometown of Custer. Sharie was his longtime friend, partner and caretaker. Ed and I were both great admirers of Roger’s prose and of his often contrarian take on life and humanity. When he died last year, each of us wrote an in memoriam column. Continue Reading →

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A look back at the best of Last Best News, 2015


In honor of the new year, let me offer up what I consider the best of the Last Best News stories of 2015. Early in the new year, in a Prairie Lights column, I wrote about a deeply religious overseas terrorist organization. The conclusions I drew from that slice of history would resonate throughout the coming year. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Remembering a time when passing remarks were free

The recent death of Billings Outpost columnist Roger Clawson created pause for reflection—not just about Roger—but life, death, obituaries and newspapering in general. The Outpost had a tribute to Roger as well as a formal just-the-facts-ma’am obituary. Outpost editor David Crisp’s account, and the obituary, appeared online via Last Best News even before the Outpost went to press. Later, Ed Kemmick of Last Best News published his own reflections on Roger. Neither charged a cent for the coverage. Continue Reading →

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Prairie Lights: Clawson’s big heart, brilliant pen live on


When the Billings Gazette hired me as a night editor in 1989, I was thrilled at the prospect of working alongside Roger Clawson. I had known of him since the mid-1970s, when I first started visiting Billings in the company of the Missoula Flying Mules, a gang of bar hounds masquerading as a hockey team. (more…) Continue Reading →

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David Crisp: Remembering Roger Clawson


In his 1944 story about the death of Capt. Henry T. Waskow, probably the most famous piece of war correspondence since Thucydides, Ernie Pyle described a soldier who looked at the body of the fallen officer and said, “God damn it to hell anyway” before walking off into the darkness. I first read that line when I was barely a teenager, and I used it at times of tragedy and loss for decades before I realized where I had stolen it. It came to mind again this weekend, when my wife and I returned from an emergency trip to Texas to bury her mother only to learn that longtime reporter and Outpost columnist Roger Clawson had died. (An obituary is below this column.) (more…) Continue Reading →

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From the Outpost: What it means to be ‘educated’


Before his death on Sunday, Lawrence F. Small was the living emblem of Rocky Mountain College. He taught history there for decades, served as dean and as president, founded the Institute for Peace Studies and literally wrote the book about Rocky, “Courageous Journey,” a history of the school. My mostly-on relationship with Rocky goes back 14 years, but that’s not how I knew Small. Instead, he was a member of the Geriatric Writers Kaffeeklatsch, whose Wednesday afternoon meetings I try to attend. (more…) Continue Reading →

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Recalling long-gone bars, and two survivors


When I first saw the subject line on the Billings Gazette website—“Retrospective: Closed Billings bars”—I was prepared to be unimpressed. I didn’t want to be a sucker nipping at “click bait,” those tantalizing packages the Gazette has been running on a regular basis in hopes of generating a lot of Web traffic with a minimum of work. (more…) Continue Reading →

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