Donald N. Soldwedel – WNI Board Chairman 1924-2008

Donald N. Soldwedel, a native of Pekin, Illinois, died on Feb. 20, 2008, in Tucson, Arizona, at the age of 83. Born on Aug. 21, 1924, he graduated from Pekin High School and completed his freshman year at the University of of Illinois. He then attended the University of Arizona and graduated in 1946 with a B.S. in Business of Administration with his major in Marketing. As an undergraduate, he was a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon, Alpha Kappa Psi, Bobcats and Blue Key.

After graduation in 1946 Soldwedel married Lou Edith McNaughton who was a University of Arizona graduate in Liberal Arts. Soldwedel then became assistant graduate manager at the University of Arizona and in 1951 he became assistant director of the new Student Union. In 1953 the couple moved to Yuma to run F.F. McNaughton’s Yuma newspaper, The Sun. In 1958 they purchased the Prescott Courier, the inception of today’s Western News&Info, Inc.®

In the 1960’s Soldwedel purchased the Casa Grande Dispatch, started the Lake Havasu City Herald and purchased partial interest in the Mohave (Kingman) Miner. A new printing plant was built for the Sun in Yuma. Sun Graphics, a commercial printing operation, was opened in Yuma.

In the 1970’s Soldwedel purchased the Mohave Valley News in Bullhead City, the Verde Independent in Cottonwood and the Camp Verde Bugle. Western News&Info, Inc.®, a holding company, was established in January 1978 with Don Soldwedel as President. The Soldwedel family owns all the stock in the privately held company.

After the holding company was formed and into the 1980’s, the Lake Powell Chronicle, Navajo-Hopi Observer, Camp Verde Bugle, Foothills Sentinel in Cave Creek, The Palo Verde Valley Times in Blythe, California, the Laughlin Gambler and Douglas Dispatch were added. The Dispatch and Chronicle were later sold. The Soldwedels also were involved in cable television operations in Yuma during this time.

In 1984, the Soldwedels sold all of their Yuma interest in the Yuma Sun, Sun Graphics and Sun Television to Cox Newspapers. Western News&Info, Inc.® has since entered the outdoor advertising business. Since 1985 the company also added the Golden Valley Enterprise, Quartzsite Times, The Chino Valley Review, Parker Pioneer (50%), Big Bug News, Canyon Country News, and the Prescott Valley Tribune to its list of newspaper properties.

In 1991, Western News&Info, Inc.® sold its newspapers in Bullhead City and Laughlin, and acquired the Williams-Grand Canyon News and Canyon Shopper (Flagstaff).

In 1995 Western News&Info, Inc.® merged its Lake Havasu City Herald with Wick Communications’ Today’s Daily News to form the Daily Today’s News-Herald.

Most recently Western News&Info, Inc.® partnered in two Yuma radio stations, purchased 100% of the Winslow Mail and The Reminder, and is publishing two phone directories, an auto trader and an entertainment magazine in Sedona. Western’s focus on Arizona-based media has recently led the company into the retail sign business in the state through a company called SignPro. Additionally, WNI began publishing weekly direct mail publications in the greater Prescott area, Cottonwood/Camp Verde/Sedona, Kingman and Lake Havasu City under the names of Smart Shopper, KUDOS and Smart Buyer.

Soldwedel and his wife have two children- Ann, married to Rick Buxie and Joe who is a director, president and CEO of Western News&Info, Inc.® They also have three grandchildren, Jill Buxie, Kelly Soldwedel and J. Brett Soldwedel.

Involvement in community affairs and organizations

Business Boards

  • Arizona Public Service Company 1958-1995
  • Pinnacle West Holding Company 1985-1995
  • SunCor Development Company 1975-1995
  • Valley National Bank, Arizona 1970-1985
  • Arizona First for Defense- 1993-1995
  • Treasurer and Exec. Committee
  • American Newspaper Publishers Assoc. 1977-1985
  • Executive Committee – 2 years
  • Chair of Newsprint Committee – 8 years
  • Chair of ANPA Foundation – 2 years
  • Federation International des Editeur et Journaux (FIEJ-Paris)
  • Chair of FIEJ Newsprint Committee – 5 years

Other Boards and Recognitions

  • President- University of Arizona Alumni Assoc. 1977 (Board Member 8 yrs.)
  • President- University of Arizona Found. 1989-1991 (Board Member 12 yrs.)
  • President- Univ. Medical Center Corp.1989-1991 (Board Member since ’84)
  • Treasurer/Finance Committee Chair/ Bd. Member/Exec. Committee University Physicians, Inc. since 1994
  • Chairman – Arizona Senior Academy
  • Co-Chair National Advisory Board College of Business and Public Administration
  • Honorary Doctorate – University of Arizona 1987
  • Presbyterian Church U.S.A.- Board Member of Presbyterian Church Foundation- 6 years
  • Chairman Special Funds Campaign – Synod of Southwest
  • Executive Committee of Bicentennial Fund campaign
  • Inducted into the Arizona Newspaper Hall of Fame – 1998
  • Arizona Board of Regents award – 1998
  • Outstanding Philanthropist in Southern Arizona – 2000
  • Inducted into the Arizona Business Hall of Fame – 2002
  • The National Republican Congressional Committee’s Business Advisory Council Businessman of the Year – 2003

Local Yuma

  • Founding Board Member Arizona Western College 1961-1975
  • Board Member of Arizona Chamber and Yuma Chamber of Commerce
  • President and Board Member of Yuma United Way
  • Chairman of Yuma Crossing Foundation – historical theme park since 1984
  • Board Member and past chair of Greater Yuma Economic Dev. Corp. – 12 yrs.
  • Board Member of Southwest Institute for Regional Development.
  • Philanthropist of the Year for Yuma – 2001