Longtime Green Valley News publisher Newell dies

Jun 1, 2022


Green Valley News, Green Valley, Arizona

Frank Newell, who worked in newspapers for 56 years and was the publisher of the Green Valley (Arizona) News for the last 12 years, died March 21 in Bellevue, Washington. He was 97.

Newell loved a good story. He could tell one, too.

When he and his wife, Susanne, celebrated their 60th anniversary in 2007, he shared this one.

“I was in my second year at Willamette University (Oregon), having enrolled on return from WWII,” he told a gathering in Green Valley. “I was also working part time at the Capital Journal, Salem's afternoon daily newspaper. Susanne was manager of the student union, known as the Bearcat Cavern.”

“The wedding was Friday evening,” he continued. “We planned a weekend at the Oregon Beach, only I didn't have a car. As we walked down the church steps, I was desperate and thinking, we will just walk through the campus to our apartment, and nobody will know.”

“We turned down the street and there at the curb was a brand new 1947 Ford sedan with Mark Hatfield holding up the keys,” with orders to return it to the local Ford dealership on Monday morning.

Hatfield — who knew Susanne from high school and college and was Frank’s fraternity brother — would go on to become Oregon’s governor and a longtime U.S. senator. They remained close for a lifetime.

Frank and Susanne were married 67 years, until her death in 2015.

“Frank was a traditionalist with rock solid principles,” said Tom Lee, publisher and group manager for Wick Communications. “People should show up on time. People should complete their work. He was supportive of his staff and engaged in his community.”

Newell, who worked for Wick Communications — parent company of the Green Valley News — since 1982, was known for his business acumen and high standards.

When he retired in 2003, the newspaper called Newell, “A pillar of ethics and strong advocate for fairness and accuracy in an era too much dominated by greed, sensationalism and self-interest.”

Pam Mox, who became publisher after Newell retired in 2003, called him “a bright, tenacious visionary who achieved much recognition for his work as a newspaper publisher.” “He was passionate about accessible community news and the community of Green Valley,” she said. “Many will continue to celebrate his contributions and memories.”

Newell grew up as a poor farm kid in rural Nebraska during the days of drought and the Depression; he attended a country school with just four students in his class.

He enlisted in the Air Force and served in the Pacific Theater as a crewman on a B-24 bomber, a radio operator, aerial gunner and aerial photographer. After the war, he used the G.I. Bill and graduated from Willamette University in 1949.

Newell was publisher of more than a dozen newspapers around the country and was known for turning around failing properties and strengthening the communities where he lived.

At his retirement dinner in 2003, Wick Communications owner Robert Wick said that of all the company’s publishers, “he was the one most constantly concerned about his employees and giving them a better place. If we had 10 Frank Newells, we'd be the best newspaper company in the world."

Newell got the last word at his retirement party and chose to share the words of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, exhorting the audience to "not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”