Our Story is a Local Love Story
It revolves around Evert & Norma Persons’ special love for each other, love for our community, and love for local journalism.
Evert B. Person spent 40 years as publisher of The Press Democrat. His late father-in-law, Ernest Finley, founded the paper in 1897. Evert retired in 1985, when he sold The Press Democrat to The New York Times Company. After the sale, Evert intentionally contributed to the community and created a legacy as one of the most prolific philanthropists in our region’s history. He donated upwards of $40 million dollars to a variety of Sonoma County organizations and causes. The Persons preferred to give quietly, as Evert didn’t like to draw attention to himself. He directed his donations to help children, the arts and our community’s health. The city of Santa Rosa, Sonoma State University, Sonoma County Museum, Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, the Burbank Center for the Arts and Finley Park, were among the major beneficiaries of Person’s generosity. Evert sadly passed in March of 2011, but his legacy of giving has continued through the work of his wife, Norma.
Norma Person, Evert’s widow, has continued to honor his legacy and commitment to our community with a special interest in local journalism. In 2012 she joined a group of local investors to help bring their beloved Press Democrat back to local ownership. Having been a publisher’s wife for decades, she understood first-hand the positive impact journalism, especially when the media company is locally owned, can have on the communities it serves.
Norma recently made a donation that has enabled the creation of The Press Democrat Journalism Trust to support the Persons’ belief in the value of local journalism to Sonoma County. The Trust intends to award four year scholarships to local youth who want to become the next generation of reporters, photo journalists, editors and digital content producers. Our scholarships will not only provide financial assistance but real life workplace internships and meaningful mentoring alongside successful role models within the industry. We also plan to support journalism efforts through non-profit programs that will boost our capacity for investigative journalism projects on topics of importance in Sonoma County. Lastly, understanding our region has often faced natural disasters, and keeping our community connection in the forefront of all we do, a portion of the Trust will be reserved to help the community directly with disaster relief efforts as needed.
Norma has helped to get this started, but the Trust will need additional financial support to accomplish our goals now and into the future. We are committed to the future of local journalism, for the benefit of the people and communities we love and serve right here at home in Sonoma County.