Mel Hodell, newspaper publisher and broker, dies at age 102

Apr 1, 2024


Hodell published 3 SoCal newspapers in the 1960s

Direct Mailer (formerly Smart Shopper), Carroll & Denison, Iowa

Melvin Ernest Hodell, a former newspaper publisher and newspaper broker, died from natural causes in Upland, California, on Jan. 31, 2024, at the age of 102.

Hodell, better known as Mel, worked in the news industry for over 70 years, first working on jobs in newspaper back shops as a youth, then as a reporter and eventually as publisher and later a broker. He spent 43 of those years based in southern California as a publisher.

Hodell was born in Oak Park, Illinois, in 1921. He grew up in Chicago and Detroit with his mother and younger sister.

Early in his life, Hodell knew he wanted to pursue a career in journalism and set his sights on Northwestern University, where he eventually graduated with a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts and a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism.

In a 2023 interview, Hodell said that as a young man, he knew his dream was journalism. He found odd jobs in print rooms to be near the action and thought he would eventually start his own paper.

“I think newspapers are vital to the future health and welfare of the country because they are on the spot and they see things as it happens,” Hodell said in that interview.

Hodell’s educational journey was put on hold in 1944 when he joined the United States Army Air Force as a second lieutenant. Hodell joined the “Hump Pilots” who were tasked with flying supplies over the Himalayas in WWII.

His journey took him 65 round trips and 552 combat air hours over the “Hump” in bare-bones cargo planes.

After leaving the military and finishing his master’s degree, Hodell served as a night editor and eventually as managing editor of the Daily Northwesterner. There, he met his future wife, Virginia Gum.

The two married in 1947 and become freelancers for City News in Chicago and later full-time reporters in Madison, Wisconsin. By 1958, the family had moved to Upland, where Hodell published three local newspapers, the Upland News, Cucamonga News and Montclair Tribune. Hodell published the papers from 1958 to 1967, when he sold them to Bonita Publishing Co.

Hodell then became a newspaper broker and appraiser, buying and selling newspapers for clients until the sale of his brokerage and retirement in 1999. He became a trusted advisor to hundreds of newspaper owners who respected his discretion in handling their transactions.

The California Newspaper Publishers Association honored Hodell with a place in its Hall of Fame and the Philip N. McCombs Achievement Award in 2010. The previous year he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service during the war.

Hodell was preceded in death by his wife, Virginia Ann Gum Hodell, and his sister, Jean Hodell Jarvis. He is survived by partner Jacquelyn Wright Kahler; daughter Melinda Hodell; son Douglas Mel Hodell (Jeanne Oster); as well as four grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

A private burial was held at Bellevue Cemetery in Ontario.

Memorial donations may be made to the San Antonio Regional Hospital Foundation at or 999 San Bernardino Road, Upland CA 91786; or the California Newspaper Publishers Association Foundation, or 2701 K St., Sacramento CA 95816.