Wylie Stauffer, who over the course of his 55-year career, saw community
journalism evolve from something people received on their front stoop every
afternoon to a news cycle available 24/7, passed away in his home Nov. 22,
2018, at the age of 91. Many communities in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and
Missouri are stronger and better for his having lived. At a time when
decency and kindness are so gravely endangered, humanity has suffered a
great loss with his death.
August 5, 1927, in Beaver, PA, to Ralph and Hilda Stauffer, he graduated
from Beaver High School where he played piano in the Big Little Band of
Sweet Swing, ”a group of high school lads and a girl who played at local
parties and school events.” He continued to play jazz and swing piano for
his enjoyment and that of his family all his life. In 1945, he enlisted in
the Marine Corps and was stationed in San Diego, CA, where his Company was
among those training for the invasion of Japan when World War II ended.
returning home from his military service, Mr. Stauffer was searching for a
career path and a neighborhood friend suggested he go to radio school at
KDKA in Pittsburgh. This led to his lifelong passion of buying, starting,
owning and operating community newspapers and radio stations.
entrepreneur, Mr. Stauffer exemplified all that is good in business,
building partnerships with investors, bankers and employees with integrity
and a handshake. “I loved what I was doing and thankfully, I realized I was
pretty good at it.”
worked in the early days with his mentor and close friend, W.K. Ulrich at
the Clearfield Progress and WCPA radio station in Clearfield, PA. It was at
WCPA that he met the girl who would be his wife for 69 years. In those days,
before television, it was a big deal to have a local radio station and
everyone wanted to see it. WCPA became so busy with people coming in asking
for tours that the employees couldn’t get their work done. So Patricia
Rhoads, a high school senior, was hired to give tours of the station so the
workers could do their jobs. The two wed Nov. 26, 1949, in Clearfield.
part of his training, Mr. Stauffer moved frequently during the early years,
taking over the management of Pennsylvania radio stations in Barnesboro,
Cherry Tree and Latrobe. In 1955, Mr. Stauffer returned to Clearfield to
begin a classified advertising division for The Progress. Within the year,
opportunity took the Stauffers, who now had two children, to Danville, PA,
where Mr. Stauffer would run the newly purchased Danville News and begin his
lengthy and distinguished career as an owner.
Settling into a community for the first time, the Stauffers purchased a home
on Market Street near F.Q.Hartman Field. Five years and two more children
later, an opportunity arose in Niles, OH, so the family moved and Mr.
Stauffer began leading the Niles Daily Times. While in Ohio, he purchased a
group of weekly newspapers serving Cortland, Hubbard Poland, Austintown and
Girard. He later started weekly newspapers for the communities of Liberty
and Howland townships, and a radio station serving Trumbull County, WTCL.
Additionally, he served on the board of the Niles Bank Company, as president
of the Niles Rotary Club and as vice president of the Ohio Newspaper
Throughout his years as an owner/operator of community news outlets, Mr.
Stauffer worked to provide good jobs and working conditions for his
employees and to improve the communities they served. He made life better
for all those with whom he came into contact. This integrity is part of what
led him to part ways with Ingersoll Publications, a national newspaper
company he served as the chief operating officer from 1975 to 1982. “I was
not cocky about it but I became confident in my ability to talk with people,
meet them and gain their trust. If you want people to trust you, you have to
do things right.”
1982, Mr. Stauffer left Ingersoll and returned to operating community
newspapers in which he had an ownership position: the Niles (OH) Daily Times
and The Danville (PA) News.
the next several years, he purchased the Noblesville (IN) Daily Ledger,
Topics (IN) Suburban Newspapers, The Fulton (MO) Sun and the Potter (PA)
Enterprise in Coudersport. He ran these newspapers with a son and daughter
during the 1990s, as journalism in general and the Internet and Web in
particular changed the landscape of the industry.
tenet of his business philosophy was that you supported the communities in
which you worked. Stauffer’s newspapers were a force for good in their
communities, throwing their editorial and advertising weight behind numerous
local projects. In Danville, these included the Danville Area Community
Center and the founding of the Iron Heritage Festival. Mr. Stauffer also
served as an early director of the Danville Area Community Foundation. He
was a member of Christ Memorial Episcopal Church in Danville and St.
Andrew’s Episcopal Church in Fort Pierce, FL, and previously of Christ
Episcopal Church in Warren, OH.
later years, he dabbled in retirement, turning to travel and boating. He and
his wife visited lifelong friends in Sri Lanka, went to New Zealand and the
Baltic regions, and took to navigating the Great Lakes in their 41-foot
cabin cruiser. But he was always eager to return home and learn what was
happening at the newspaper or in the worlds of his children and
Perhaps his biggest legacy, though, are the descriptive words from anyone
who talked to him, whether in a single conversation or years-long
friendship: He’s so kind, patient, gentle. What a nice man.
is who Lee Stauffer was, even when the challenges and struggles of his own
life were heavy on his heart.
a warm smile, soft tone and gentle manner. The guiding principles of his
life were patience and kindness. He was always generous in ways big and
small. He and Pat established a family fund at the Danville Area Community
Foundation to provide ongoing support for the non-profits in whose work he
believed. When natural disasters struck around the globe, his was an early
donation to the relief funds and when the server at McDonald’s just looked
like she could use help, he’d tuck a little extra in her hand and wish her a
survived by his wife, Patricia R. Stauffer of Danville; a son, Michael Lee
and his wife Dolly, of Danville; a daughter, Cynthia Louise of Hillsborough,
NC; a daughter, Neela Marrikar and her husband Zarook, of Colombo, Sri
Lanka; and a daughter Pamela Stauffer Christine and her husband Ed, of
Orangeville; five grandchildren, Alexander LeRoy Christine of Virginia;
Andrew Moyle of Florida and Jessica Moyle of Oregon; Lucas Stauffer-Weller
and Alana Stauffer-Weller, both of North Carolina; a great-granddaughter,
Kaiya Stauffer-Atkins of North Carolina, a niece, a nephew and many
great-nieces and -nephews. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in
death by a son, Douglas F. Stauffer and a sister, Jane Ann Hales.
Relatives, friends and associates are invited to attend a Celebration of
LeRoy’s Life to be held Thursday, November 29, 2018 at 12:00 Noon at Christ
Memorial Episcopal Church 120 E. Market Street Danville PA with Father Jim
Strader-Sasser officiating. Burial will be private and held at the
convenience of the family.
Flowers will be provided by the family. Memorial contributions in memory of
Mr. Stauffer may be made to the Stauffer Family Fund c/o the Danville Area
Community Foundation, 725 W. Front St., Berwick PA 18603, where they will
continue to generously support the community he loved.
Arrangements are under the direction of Visneski Funeral Home Inc., 42 W.
Mahoning St., Danville.