Frosty Landon, NFOIC Hall of Famer, remembered for ‘heroic’ efforts to promote open government, establish state coalitions

The Virginia Coalition for Open Government’s first executive director, Frosty Landon, and its current director, Megan Rhyne (right), display the Senate Resolution commending VCOG on its 10th anniversary in 2006, while Maria Everett (then head of the FOIA Council, which Landon was instrumental in creating) shows off a resolution establishing March 16 as Freedom of Information Day in Virginia. 

Frosty Landon, a one-time president of the National Freedom of Information Coalition board who was instrumental in advising new NFOIC coalitions in the 2000s, is being remembered as a hero and advocate for open government.

Landon died July 19, 2021, at age 87.

Landon, longtime editor of the Roanoke Times & World-News in Virginia, was inducted into the NFOIC’s State Government Hall of Fame in 2007. He was known as a “cantankerous and generous soul,” said Megan Rhyne, executive director of the Virginia Coalition for Open Government, for which Landon secured significant grant money to create an endowment.

“What he did for the Virginia Coalition for Open Government was nothing short of heroic,” Rhyne told The Roanoke Times.

“What he’s done for open government is that while there are always going to be challenges and those who don’t embrace open government, he’s allowed us to be consistently present for all this time,” Rhyne said. “Whether it’s me or others, people see us and hear us. They may not vote our way or agree with us, but they knew we were there and respect us.”

Those who knew Landon shared fond memories on an email listserv hosted by NFOIC:

“I remember him very fondly,” said Lisa K. Garcia, a business technology startup adviser at Virginia Tech, who worked at The Roanoke Times in the 1990s. “When my mother died and I showed up for work, he kicked me out of The Roanoke Times building where I was working as a relatively new editorial assistant, 20-plus years ago. I was fine, I thought.

“I went home and sobbed. I’ll never forget him for that one act of empathy and wisdom,” Garcia said.

“He was a passionate soul,” said Barbara Croll Fought, associate professor in the Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. “We are all better because he walked this Earth.

“He was a champion for open government, a real fighter.”

“I worked very closely with Frosty during those early NFOIC years, and you couldn’t do that without appreciating his personality and drive,” said Bill Chamberlin, who was inducted into The Open Government Hall of Fame in 2008.  “A precious soul devoted to open government.”