By Cass Rains, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
HENNESSEY, Okla. —
After more than 100 years of ownership by the Walter family, The Hennessey Clipper has been sold to an Okeene couple.
Long-time owner William B. Walter said the sale of the newspaper was effective Dec. 31. The Hennessey Clipper was purchased by Paul and Maria Laubach.
The Laubachs purchased three other community newspapers — the Okeene Record, Canton Times and Dewey County Record — July 1, 2013.
Walter and his wife, Barbara, have run The Hennessey Clipper for the past 35 years. Barbara will remain on staff and William will continue to work at the newspaper a few days a week.
He said he got his start at the newspaper as a kid, working for his father and doing whatever jobs he was capable of doing without losing his fingers.
William said he remembered the newspaper used to print cards when members of the community would pass away. One of his first jobs was taking those cards to each of the businesses downtown. As he grew older, William was tasked to do more at the newspaper — from setting hot type to pouring lead and eventually running the press.
William said he had a “lot of fun” running the newspaper the last 35 years. When asked if he had the chance to do it all over, he didn’t hesitate to answer, “Absolutely.”
“It’s been a great ride all the way through,” he said. “From starting when I was 8 years old and handing out those things (obituary cards) all the way up to owning the newspaper, covering the good stuff and the bad stuff and telling people about the community.”
William said Barbara got her start in the newspaper business at the age of 16, when one of the Oklahoma City newspapers hired her to write news from a student’s point of view. He said she then worked for Oklahoma Press Association after graduating from high school.
“We decided we could put our capabilities together and we could run a newspaper,” William said.
William’s great aunt Mabel Walker purchased The Clipper in 1904. It was combined with the Frank G. Tierney’s Press-Democrat in 1914 and the two became co-publishers.
William’s father, Art Walter, Mabel Walker’s nephew, began working at the paper at an early age and brought his wife and son to Hennessey in 1936 to stay. Art purchased Tierney’s half-interest in 1953, becoming co-publisher along with his aunt. She ceased participation in the newspaper operation due to ill heath in 1956, and Art purchased her share.
Art ran the paper until 1977, when he died of a stroke. His wife, Jean, took over until her heath forced her to retire in December 1977.
Upon his mother’s retirement, William took over the newspaper and became publisher. His mother died in September 1980, leaving William as the sole owner of The Clipper.
The Clipper was founded June 13, 1890, by J.B. Campbell.
New owner Maria Laubach said people have been asking her why she and her husband bought the Clipper, and she said there are multiple reasons.
“The opportunity came up, and we always thought it would be a very good purchase, a very good newspaper to have,” she said. “We decided it would be a good addition to our three newspapers.”
She said the papers will share some content but noted, “Each community is unique in its own way.”
She said Barbara will stay on with the paper and continue covering the news in Hennessey she has for decades.
“We told them (the Walters) when we talked to them about The Hennessey Clipper and the possibility of purchasing it, she would have to stay and help,” Maria said. “Barb will stay on board and she will continue covering all the news she had been covering, and we’ll try to add something to that, hopefully.”