Celebrating 50 years of the Shriners ‘Editorial Without Words’

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Exterior of Shriners Hospital

The photo known as the “Editorial Without Words” is one of the Shriners’ most recognizable images. It was taken almost by accident, 50 years ago, on June 11, 1970, in Evansville, Indiana. This special moment, captured for all time, eloquently illustrates the relationship between the Shriners fraternity and Shriners Hospitals for Children.

A person walking and carrying a child

The Hadi Shriners were celebrating their annual summer picnic at Mesker Park. Patients were invited, and everyone enjoyed a day of food, fun and carnival rides. Toward the end of the day, Shriner Al Hortman, who became a Shriner after his daughter, Laura, was treated at Shriners Hospitals for Children, noticed a young girl who needed help. Hortman lifted Bobbi Jo Wright and her crutches and carried her from ride to ride. Sunday Courier and Press photographer Randy Dieter captured the photo with a long lens as the two walked past him.

Today, Bobbi Jo lives independently and is active in her church. She spends much time and energy traveling and speaking on behalf of Shriners Hospitals for Children, and meeting and encouraging other patients and families. “It is so amazing to see the impact that the Editorial Without Words and Shriner Al Hortman’s act of kindness 50 years ago continues to have today,” said Wright.

Bobbi Jo can be seen in the Shriners Hospitals for Children – Northern California statue outside our hospital on Stockton Boulevard, created in honor of the image. Many refer to the image as the “Silent Messenger.” Ironically, this particular statue was created by Evansville resident and Hadi Shriner Joe Wyatt, who passed away in 2018.

The photo is recognized worldwide as a symbol of Shriners Hospitals for Children, and a version of the image is used as the Shriners Hospitals for Children logo.