About Thomas M. Storke, U.S. Senator
Thomas More Storke (November 23, 1876 – October 12, 1971) was an American politician, rancher, journalist and publisher. He was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Journalism in 1962.
Born in Santa Barbara, California to eminent local citizen and politician Charles A. Storke, he attended public schools and graduated from Stanford University in 1898. (The now-demolished Storke Publications Building at Stanford was named for his family.)
He was editor and publisher of the Santa Barbara News-Press and its predecessors, a rancher and citrus fruit grower, and postmaster of Santa Barbara from 1914 to 1921. Storke was one of the few prominent voices opposed to the movement in Santa Barbara in the 1920s to unify the architectural style around a Spanish theme, although he later recanted, claiming that his original opposition was principally because such dictates interfered with the constitutional rights of property owners.
He was appointed on November 9, 1938, as a Democrat to the United States Senate to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of William Gibbs McAdoo and served from November 9, 1938, to January 3, 1939. However, because Congress was not in session during the time he was in office, Storke was never actually sworn into office. He was not a candidate for election for the full term.
He returned home and resumed working in the media, merging his newspaper the Santa Barbara News with the Morning Press to create the Santa Barbara News-Press. He also founded AM radio station KTMS. He was a member of the California Crime Commission from 1951–1952, and the Board of Regents of the University of California from 1955 until 1960.
In 1958 Storke wrote California Editor, a lengthy memoir rich in local Santa Barbara history.
In 1961, after the John Birch Society attacked the Eisenhower administration and U.S. Chief Justice Earl Warren as being communists, Storke responded with a caustic series of editorials in the News-Press which won him popular acclaim as well as a number of prizes. These included the Pulitzer Prize in Journalism, for Editorial Writing in 1962, the Elijah Parish Lovejoy Award and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Colby College.
He died in Santa Barbara and is buried in Santa Barbara Cemetery. Storke's contributions to the development of Santa Barbara include spearheading numerous public ventures, including the establishment of the Santa Barbara Municipal Airport, the building of Lake Cachuma that supplies the area with water, and the upgrading of Santa Barbara State College to a University of California campus UCSB. He used his political clout to help obtain the present UCSB campus, over 900 coastal acres (3.6 km2) and a former military installation, from the US Government under the college land grant program.
Part of Storke's lasting legacy is Storke Tower, a 190-foot structure in the center of the UCSB campus. Beneath Storke Tower is the Storke Communication Plaza, which houses the offices of the campus Daily Nexus newspaper and the studios of community radio station KCSB-FM.