An association for alumni and supporters of The Daily Texan

Friends of The Daily Texan

An association for alumni and supporters of The Daily Texan

Friends of The Daily Texan

An association for alumni and supporters of The Daily Texan

Friends of The Daily Texan

Contact Information
Friends of The Daily Texan, Inc.
1401 Lavaca St
Austin, TX 78701

[email protected]

In Memoriam: Loretta Mae Diggs Pendergraft

Loretta Mae Diggs Pendergraft

Died Dec. 20, 2023

Wichita, Kansas

Loretta Mae Diggs Pendergraft, 105, passed away in Wichita on December 20, 2023 after a bout with Covid. She lived in Kansas most of her life but traveled extensively with her husband, Keith Pendergraft, until his death in 2015. She is survived by her daughter, Jo Pendergraft Clifton and son-in-law, Roger Duncan, her brother- in- law, Roger Pendergraft, and several nieces and nephews, as well as friends who will miss her sense of humor. Jo is a journalist in Austin, Texas.

Loretta was a strong supporter of student journalism and she and her daughter Jo made a key donation to establish the S. Griffin Singer Scholarship created by the board of Friends of The Daily Texan, Inc.

Loretta was born in Emporia, Kansas, where she started her education in a one-room school. She met her future husband, Keith, at that school, but they did not get together until much later. She attended Emporia State Teachers College for two years and then went on to the University of Kansas in 1938. Keith attended Kansas State University, but his education was interrupted by World War II.

As a young girl, Loretta read the comic strip Jane Arden. Arden was a journalist and Loretta knew that’s what she wanted to be also. She had started writing stories by third grade. She told her family she didn’t want to be a teacher, a nurse, a librarian, or an office worker. She wanted to be a journalist.

She worked on her high school newspaper and was editor in chief of the yearbook, the Emporia High School Re-Echo. When she got to KU, she started writing for the University Daily Kansan, where she eventually became an associate editor. She graduated in 1940 and began her journalism career.

Keith and Loretta were married in early 1944, shortly after he got his wings. After a brief honeymoon, he went to Europe to fly bombing missions over Germany.

While men from Kansas were serving in World War II, Loretta was writing about those men and their families, among other things. She worked for several newspapers, including the Kingman Leader-Courier, the Junction City Daily News and the Ponca City News.

Upon moving to Wichita in 1950, Loretta got involved in the community, eventually working with Project Beauty to promote Wichita beautification and the Wichita Art Museum and the McConnell retired officers’ wives association. She and Keith bought a number of rental properties, which they ran until they were in their late 80s.

Loretta and Keith enjoyed traveling, including road trips across the United States and exploring abroad in Germany, England, Ireland and Scotland, Russia and Ukraine.