Walter M. Wick, an inductee in the Arizona Newspaper Association Hall of Fame and Publisher Emeritus of the Sierra Vista Herald/Bisbee Daily Review, died Christmas morning at his home in Hereford, Ariz.
Along with brother Bob Wick, Walter Wick guided ownership of Wick Communications for more than a half century. He died at the age of 85, following a recent diagnosis of pancreatic cancer.
"I was blessed as much as any brother ever could be with Walter's presence in my life. We at times had our differences but we each knew our love transcended all problems,” Robert Wick said. “In my life this great soul is passed but his reverberation will ripple throughout all those who have known him.”
The brothers purchased their uncle’s interest in Wick Communications in 1965, following his death. Their father, Milton Wick, and uncle James, founded the company when they acquired the family’s first newspaper in 1926 in Niles, Ohio. Family members remain active in the business today. Walter’s daughter, Rebecca Rogers, currently serves on the company’s Board of Directors. Nephew Francis Wick is the company President and CEO. Daughter Pat Wick is the Assistant General Manager at the Herald/Review, and her son, Andrew Saenz, has been named interim general manager of the Nogales International.
"Walt was a shepherd of the Wick family and stalwart of the Wick organization,” CEO Francis Wick said. “His leadership and teachings have created a strong foundation for the company to continue under family ownership for years to come.”
Walter and Robert Wick assumed full ownership of the company, which expanded to 27 publications, in 1981 following the death of their father. Wick Communications, under Walter and Robert’s stewardship, currently has holdings in 11 states, from Alaska to North Carolina.
“My brother Walter was a brilliantly unique human being. With a ferocious memory for literature, history, and newspapering,” Robert Wick said.
Herald/Review Publisher Manuel Coppola, who serves as president of the ANA, said Wick’s support for community journalism has left an indelible mark in the industry’s history book.
“Walter and Robert Wick were inducted into the ANA Hall of Fame for their devotion to newspapers and their support of community journalism,” Coppola said.
Coppola came up through the Wick ranks and was recently named publisher of the flagship, The Sierra Vista Herald/Bisbee Daily Review.
“Walt’s and Bob’s anecdotes about growing up in the newspaper business inspired those of us who were in the infancy of our careers in relation to their experience. Walt would take a genuine interest in you as a person, as a publisher and about the newspaper to which you were assigned,” Coppola said.
“With that deep newspaper background and personal touch the brothers earned the respect of my fellow publishers and I who saw them — and still consider Bob — more as colleagues than corporate figureheads.”
Former Wick publisher Steve Woody recalled that Walter was more than a boss, and always available when he was needed most. "I called Walt one night and asked him to help me get sober. He did,” Woody recalled. “So, my life’s work and my sobriety have a genesis with Walt. That’s an uncommon bond and is a testament to his humanity.”
Friends and community members expressed sympathies and remembered Walter Wick as a poet, publisher, businessman and strong supporter of his community.
“He was a wonderful conversationalist, listening carefully to the thoughts of others, and responding in a very thoughtful and profound manner. Even something as brief as a thank you note would be written in a poetic and thought-provoking manner,” said Sally Holcombe.
Holcombe said it has been more than 30 years since she and her late husband met Walt Wick. “Everyone who knew Walt knew of his devotion to and concern for his family and friends,” she said.
Walter was born at Northside Hospital, in Youngstown, Ohio, on Feb. 4, 1931, to Milton and Rosemary (Lomas) Wick of Niles. He was born into a pioneering Norwegian family of Lutheran and Presbyterian pastors and ministers. He attended Washington Junior High School and McKinley High School, both of Niles, graduating in 1949. He attended college at Kent State University and the University of Minnesota.
Walter married Joyce M. Nelson in Minneapolis, Minn., in June of 1951 and then moved and worked as a publisher of the Niles Daily Times until 1961. He also served a term as president of the Niles Chamber of Commerce. In 1962 Wick and his family of four children (soon to be six) moved to Williston, ND, where he was publisher of the Williston Daily Herald for 14 years. They lived there until Walter was needed in Arizona when his father became ill and following the death of his teenage son, Thomas Walter in 1973. Walter was named publisher of the Sierra Vista Herald/Bisbee Daily Review and also served as president of the board of directors of Wick News, Inc. for many years.
He was preceded in death by his son, Thomas Walter, 16, in 1973, and nephew, Stanley Walter, 17, in 1980, and his former wife, Joyce M. Wick in 2002.
He is survived by his wife, Beverly E. (Sullivan), with whom he was first acquainted in Niles during junior and senior high school. Beverly and Walter’s courtship was resumed in 2004 during a 55th high school reunion and they were married and moved to Sierra Vista in 2009.
He is also survived by his brother, Robert (Bob) J. (Estellean) Wick of Bisbee, his children, Robert (Robin) M. (Linda Golya) and Jonathan P. (Theresa Sowersby) both of Hereford, Christopher M. of Phoenix, Patricia Wick (Samuel Zackey) and Rebecca Rogers, both of Sierra Vista and Martha Lundin (Steve Frye) of Waukesha, WI. Grandchildren, Andrew J. (Jerusha) Saenz of Sahuarita, Morganna (John) Guzzon of Mesa, John (Claribel) Saenz of Willcox, Fiona Rogers of Tucson, Neville Wick of Flagstaff, Jessica Beam of Bronx, NY and Lucas Bostrom of Olympia, WA, Teryl (Callie) Murray of Show Low and Tyler (Larry Eberly) Murray of Tucson; great grandchildren, Zane, AJ, Markus, Danika and Matthew, Emyt, Meryn, Sara and Maximino. He is further survived by his nephews Francis, Nathan, and Horace Wick and nieces Cornelia Gun, Rosemary Wick and stepchildren Tom (Karen) Caswelch and Doug (Coleen) Caswell, their families and former wife, Joellen (Fisher) Wick.
Walter and his brother were elected to the Arizona Newspaper Association Hall of Fame in 2004, and also received the Presidential Medallion from Kent State University as the co-founder (along with brother Robert) of the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University in memory of his son Thomas, and his nephew, Stanley. Wick also established the Walter Wick Family Foundation with the Arizona Community Foundation and contributed most significantly, along with other family members to the Sierra Vista Boys and Girls Club Building Fund.
Walter’s interests, outside of being with and loving his family, included newspapers, literature, history and poetry. He loved bird watching, fine dining, and caring for his dachshunds. He was always up on the latest news, The New York Times book reviews, and health information.
Gift memorials may be made to the Wick Poetry program at Kent State University, P.O. Box 5190, Kent OH 44242; attn: David Hassler. Services are tentatively being planned for Jan. 6 in Sierra Vista, Ariz., with service location and times published close to the date.