Navajo-Hopi Nations,Flagstaff & Winslow News
Mon, Sept. 21

Navajo-Hopi Observer Publisher Doug Wells to retire at end of August

Navajo-Hopi Observer and Williams-Grand Canyon News Publisher Doug Wells looks through some old editions of the papers. Ryan Williams/NHO

Navajo-Hopi Observer and Williams-Grand Canyon News Publisher Doug Wells looks through some old editions of the papers. Ryan Williams/NHO

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - Doug Wells, publisher of the Navajo-Hopi Observer and the Williams-Grand Canyon News, announced he will retire August 28.

Known for his dedication to newspapering, Wells has worked to ensure that the Navajo-Hopi Observer is a strong voice for the Native American population in northern Arizona.

Both the Navajo-Hopi Observer and the Williams Grand Canyon News are Western News & Info, Inc. media publications.

"I am very proud of my years guiding the Williams-Grand Canyon News in my hometown of Williams, and have enjoyed working with the Native American community through the Navajo-Hopi Observer," Wells said. "Both publications serve unique communities and each has its own issues and events, which we have covered effectively in our publications," Wells said. "I have had the privilege of meeting many of the leaders of the Navajo and Hopi tribes and have enjoyed traveling to reservation communities in our coverage area. I would like to thank the many news sources, advertisers, and our readers for their continued support and loyalty."

The Wells name has been synonymous with newspapering since 1913. Wells' followed in the footsteps of his father and grandfather. The Wells family ownership began in October 1913 when Wells' grandfather Frank Evarts Wells arrived from Lawrence, Kansas to purchase the newspaper in Williams.

Frank Wells achieved a notable career as publisher of the Williams News for over 50 years. He was named "Dean of Arizona Newspaper Men." The second generation began when Frank Wells' son, F. Evarts Wells Jr. started working at the newspaper at a young age, and continued being a part of the weekly publication throughout most of his adult years.

After serving in the Navy during World War II, Evarts Wells returned to Williams to work at the newspaper alongside his father. F. Evarts Wells, Jr. His wife Cecil had four sons and it was their youngest son Doug who was drawn to the family tradition of newspapering.

Working alongside his father many nights, weekends and summers in his youth, Wells returned to the newspaper after graduating from Northern Arizona University in 1976.

Upon his father's death in 1978, Wells assumed management and became the third generation to publish the Williams News.

In 1992, the Williams-Grand Canyon News was sold and became a publication of Western News & Info, Inc. (WNI), which has a long tradition of newspapering in Arizona and is owned by the Soldwedel family. Doug was retained as publisher of the Williams-Grand Canyon News and later was named publisher of the Navajo-Hopi Observer.

WNI Executive Vice President Kit Atwell said since selling the paper to WNI, Wells has been an integral part of the company's management team maintaining his publisher role with The Williams/Grand Canyon News and taking on the responsibility of the Navajo-Hopi Observer.

"Doug has been an asset to Western and will be sorely missed," Atwell said. "While we hate to see Doug leave we wish him the best in his retirement.

Wells said he is proud of what has been accomplished with both the William-Grand Canyon News and the Navajo-Hopi Observer.

"The wide-ranging support we have had from the business community and our readers has been invaluable in enabling us to cover the special events and news for these communities," he said. "In this time of challenges facing the newspaper industry, the Williams-Grand Canyon News and Navajo-Hopi Observer still stand strong in bringing quality community journalism to their readership. I have worked in the newspaper industry all my life, and it has been a rewarding career. I would like to take a new direction and take time away from the many demands and deadlines, which are a part of newspapering. I look forward to spending more time with my wife Ann, our children and grandchildren. I have many hobbies and activities to enjoy as I face this new lifestyle ahead."

Moving forward

Debbie White-Hoel will step in as publisher beginning in mid-August.

White-Hoel started at the Palo Verde Valley Times in 1996 as a receptionist circulation clerk. She was promoted to general manager in 2000 and promoted to publisher in 2003. She will split time between Blythe and Williams weekly.

"Western News &Info has allowed me to expand and grow in my new community of Williams and Flagstaff Arizona and still spend time in my home town," White-Hoel said. "I know this opportunity will be very challenging, fun and exciting and I look forward to all the changes coming my way. I want to thank the Blythe community for all the support they have shown over the last almost 20 years, and I am glad that I will still be able to spend time here in Blythe."

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