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Mickelson was a "newspaper" person

September 29, 2010 - Per Peterson
Walter “Bill” Mickelson, a man who worked his way up from reporter, to editor, to publisher and, eventually, to owner of the Marshall Independent in the early 1970s, died Sept. 4 in Minneapolis after a series of strokes. He was 84. Ten years after the Messenger went from a weekly newspaper to a tri-weekly, it was sold to New Ulm-based Mickelson Media Inc. in a move that merged the Messenger with the Lyon County Independent. The Marshall Messenger was purchased by Mickelson from the Donald Olson family in 1971. In 1973, he purchaed the Lyon County Independent from the Henle family. The move resulted in the formation of the Messenger-Independent, a six-day-a-week morning paper. Eventually, the name Messenger was dropped from the masthead. Mickelson worked at the New Ulm Journal as a reporter, circulation manager, and regional editor, and became publisher of the Fairmont Sentinel in 1956. After his father died in 1967, he returned to New Ulm as president of Mickelson Media Inc. (MMI), which continued its expansion into newspapers in Minnesota. In 1980 MMI sold its Minnesota community newspapers in New Ulm, Fairmont, Sleepy Eye, St. James, Marshall, Redwood Falls, and Willmar, as well as the House of Print printing center in Madelia to Ogden Newspapers of Wheeling W.Va. Mickelson was clearly a newspaper person, having been in the business all his life. What's a newspaper person? It's a person who falls in love with newspaper so much they simply cannot leave it. It's a person who sacrifices and works brutal hours, makes plenty of enemies and grows skin thicker than leather. Not many around anymore. Those not familiar with the business might not understand how impressive being a lifer in the newspaper business is. Many people don't last a decade. I've run across some who quit after a day. Having spent half of my life at the Independent, I appreciate Mickelson's dedication and I admire him for his commitment, even though I never met him. Mickelson is proof that some people really do have ink running through their veins.


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