Sat, April 04

Column: Chance meeting leads to lifelong friendship and a wonderful career

Don Soldwedel

Don Soldwedel

It's pretty interesting to see how a perfect stranger can become such an icon in one's life. I was sitting in a journalism editing class in 1982 at the Northern Arizona University. Lucky for us, that day, we were having a guest speaker. That speaker was Don Soldwedel.

Flash forward to three days after my college graduation. I am now employed at the Prescott Daily Courier. I had grown up in Prescott. It wasn't long before I realized that the guest speaker I had listened to just a few short years before in my Advanced Editing class was the owner of the very company with which I had just started my career.

In those days, Don, visited his newspapers frequently. He made it a point to speak to all the employees. We were a small newspaper back then, maybe 40 employees or so. I shared my story about how I knew him. Silly 22-year-old that I was, I bored him with the "remember when you spoke to George Taylor's journalism class. Well I was in his class." I said this so proudly and Don, whether he did or did not remember me, made me feel 10 feet tall.

Over the past 25 years, I have had the opportunity to enjoy a wonderful career working for the Soldwedel family. Over those 25 years, on the occasions I was privelged to be at a company function or meeting with Don, he always made it a point to share a few minutes with me.

I got married recently. Don had the opportunity to meet my husband-to-be. I remember them spending a good little time in conversation. Just like a dad or granddad, he would always ask after my husband. In his special way, he would remember the details about their conversations, just like he would remember the details of my life over the years.

And the stories I have heard about Don over the past 25 years have been incredible, stories of a man who truly gave back to the world. Be it the newspaper industry, the education system, Arizona communities or the need of a single employee, Don would be there to help.

The caring, supporting, loving spirit of Western Newspapers, Inc., for me, started by chance when Don Soldwedel made that 22-year-old girl feel like she was 10 feet tall.

Pam Miller is the publisher of

Verde Valley Newspapers, Inc.

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