Legacy - Legacies - 125th Anniversary

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  • Wednesday, August 26, 2015 Whidbey News-Times WWW.WHIDBEYNEWSTIMES.COM Page B1

    By JESSIE STENSLANDjessie@whidbeynewsgroup.com

    T he people who create small-town newspapers are, in many ways, a reflection of the community.

    Over the 125 years of its exis-tence, a varied assortment of peo-ple have contributed to the many papers that came to be known as the Whidbey News-Times from the paper boys to the press opera-tors to ad salespeople to reporters.

    They were pillars of the com-munity, colorful local characters and quite a few oddballs. A woman who could become one of the old-est proofreaders in the world and even a future Pulitzer Prize win-

    ner worked for the Whidbey News-Times.

    Perhaps the best known of the News-Times alums is Wallie Funk, who is now 93 years old and lives in Anacortes. He wasnt just an editor, photojournalist and half-owner of the newspaper, but a community leader and philanthropist who con-tinues to make positive change in the community.

    On Feb. 11, 1965, college buddies Funk and John Webber, who both had owned the Anacortes American, purchased the News-Times and the South Whidbey Record from long-time owners A. Glenn and Phyllis Smith.

    Funk said Phyllis was really the brains of the operation.

    While Funk ran the editorial aspects of the Whidbey News-Times, Webber ran the business side.

    Funk said Webber was a great guy and a perfect partner, even though he had an interesting Maine accent.

    Reached by phone, Funk said that he absolutely loved being a newspaper man. Under his leader-ship, the paper didnt shy away from crime and politics, but he said he was also an advocate for the com-munity and a strong supporter of the Navy.

    Funk was the president of the Navy League for three years.

    Funk was omnipresent in the community for decades, almost always with his trademark Nikon

    camera.He said one of the most note-

    worthy events he ever covered was the 1970 orca roundup in Penn Cove. He was the first journalist at the extraordinary event and took more than 200 images of the whales trapped in net pens.

    His photos appeared all over the nation and as far away as the London Times. The amazing pho-tos and stories the Whidbey News-Times covered about dead orcas washed ashore with stones in their stomachs helped turn the tide toward the protection of the whales.

    Funk also helped many young journalists get their starts. Perhaps his best hire was Eric Nalder, who went on to became an investiga-

    tive reporter for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and has won two Pulitzer Prizes.

    In a 2007 story about Funk for the University of Washingtons Department of Communication, Nalder recalled that Funk hired him in 1970; he opined that Funk liked that he had long hair, a sport coat and a bad tie.

    This was the era of hippies, said Nalder. He embraced that.

    Nalder covered Island County government. In one early story, he wrote that Prosecutor Ed Beeksma asked the commissioners for more money to be able to attract good attorneys; some things never

    These are the people who made the newsAt left, Nellie Williams worked at the newspaper until she was 100 years old. Center, Wallie Funk and John Webber, on right, are pictured signing papers for the purchase of the Whidbey News-Times. At right, Dorothy Neil was a longtime columnist and local historian.

    SEE NEWS PEOPLE. PAGE B7Supplement to the Whidbey News-Times

  • By JESSIE STENSLANDjstensland@whidbeynewsgroup.com

    T he yellowing pages of old newspapers some brittle with age, some in tatters tell the story of Whidbey Island over the past 125 years.

    The format has changed over the course of decades, from the giant, black-and-white broadsheet papers to the current tabloid size.

    The mechanism for creating the pages transitioned from typesetting with metal letters to pasting pages together with hot wax to the cur-rent all-digital layout of print papers and the uploading of news to the Internet.

    Still, the fundamentals are the same and the words on the pages belie that fact. From the beginning, the newspapers offered snapshots of community, from stories of local politics, tragedy and crime to the scores of Little League games and features about interesting people.

    A hundred and twenty five years on an island is pretty incredible, said Rick Castellano, director of the Island County Historical Society.

    The Janet Enzmann Archives at the museum in Coupeville contain hundreds of newspapers, including the very first one printed on the island.

    Archivist Sarah Aldrich said she is working on digitizing the news-papers, which will be available to the public in a searchable format someday.

    The Island News was the first newspaper published on Whidbey Island. It was established in Coupeville in 1885 by Flowers and OBrien, according to The Coast, a 1902 history chronicle. But the newspaper was short-lived.

    Rowells American Newspaper Directory listed the Island News in the 1885 edition, but it disappears from the directory two years later and never reappears.

    The Island County Sun emerged in 1890. It was an eight-page paper published in Coupeville and cost $2 for a years subscription. Charles W. Angel was the publisher of the Republican newspaper, accord-ing to the N.W. Ayer and Sons Newspaper Annual from that year.

    But the newspaper struggled because of its liberal tendencies, according to Castellano.

    In response, a group of the newspapers critics started a rival product, the Island County Times, in Coupeville in 1891. The rivalry between the two newspapers was bitter, as evident from an early edi-torial in the Times, which describes the fledging paper as one of the best weeklies in the Pacific Northwest that has reported accurately and without bias.

    And it has done this all in the face of the bitterest and most repre-hensible opposition, it states, going on at great length to savage the reputation of the rival newspaper.

    Nevertheless, the two newspa-pers merge as the Island County Times in 1894.

    The early papers were without photographs and mixed ads with news stories. National news domi-nated the papers until well into the 20th Century.

    Local news moved to the front page and photographs were added

    circa 1909.Much of the early local news

    involved the everyday life of Whidbey Island residents, such as who was visiting from out of town and where people went on vaca-tion. An unusually lengthy story in an 1891 paper described a woman whos home was haunted by a spook.

    Whidbey was Whidby and Penn Cove was Penns Cove in the early papers.

    Like newspapers across the nation, early papers on Whidbey Island were frank, grisly and even insensitive by modern standards.

    An 1893 story in the Sun describes in detail how Charles Crockett, an old and respected resident, killed

    himself at his Coupeville home. The headline reads Blew his

    brains out.The newspapers also captured

    the racism and sexism of the time. A story in an early Island County Times, for example, argues that it was a positive development that Chinamen were moving off the island.

    The first editor of the consoli-dated paper was E. G. Earle, who in 1900 sold it to D. Carl Pearson, historian Jimmie Jean Cook wrote in her book, A Particular Friend, Penns Cove.

    The newspaper changed hands in quick succession in the coming decades. William T. Howard pur-chased it circa 1905 for $1,600.

    The Seattle News of July 15, 1906 refers to Mr. Howard as an old news-paper editor and publisher from Nebraska, Cook wrote, who ran the paper as a staunch Republican organ, was the official paper of the county and reached nearly every family in Island County.

    Beriah Brown purchased the newspaper in 1925.

    By the 1930s, A. Glenn and Phyllis Smith owned and operat-ed the three main newspapers on the island. The Oak Harbor News, which started as the Farm Bureau News in 1911 by H. L. Bowmer, covered the north end of the island. The Whidbey Record, originally the Whidby Record, covered the south end since 1923. In the middle was the Island County Times.

    The Smiths merged the Island County Times and the Oak Harbor News in 1959, creating the Whidbey News-Times.

    This is the last issue of the proud old Island County News established in 1891 in Coupeville, and one of the oldest weeklies in the State of Washington, Smith wrote in the Sept. 24, 1959 edition of the Island County News.

    Then in 1965, business partners Wallie Funk and John Webber pur-chased the News-Times and the Record from the Smiths. Funk and Webber had been co-owners of the Anacortes American, but they lost it after a merger with the Skagit Valley Herald.

    As Funk explained, the Smiths would only sell to the two men, fresh out of journalism school, because they had a passion for community journalism.

    The two college buddies had a 40-year partnership in the newspa-per business.

    I was in charge of editorial con-tent. He was in charge of the busi-ness side, Funk said in a 2010 interview. It was a relationship that worked well. Some marriages dont last that long.

    The partners sold the papers to Sound Publishing in 1989 and soon after it became a twice-weekly paper to better serve the growing com-munity.

    photo courtesy of Peggy Darst Townsend

    Page B2 WWW.WHIDBEYNEWSTIMES.COM Wednesday, August 26, 2015 Whidbey News-Times

    Whidbey newspapers merged, evolved

    photo courtesy of Peggy Darst Townsend

    Above, Wallie Funk took this photos of the 1970 orca capture in Penn Cove. His images were published internationally.Right, a truck drives through the old entrance to Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.Below, the Farm Bureau News front page captures the response on Whidbey and the nation after the attack on Pearl Harbo