Newspaper patriarch Martin Conover dies at 75 - Newspaper Article
Contributor: mkushlan Created: 8 months ago Updated: 8 months ago
Martin William Conover was a man with passion. He loved his family, adored his wife Patricia, and gave 110 percent to his community and his profession. The man who had printers ink running through his veins and a keen eye for just the right photo, passed away Tuesday at age 75.
Born Feb. 27, 1936 in Provo, Conover, the longtime publisher of the Springville Herald, Mt. Pleasant Pyramid and Eureka Reporter newspapers, was in the business for as long as anyone can remember. He took over as publisher of his three newspapers in 1967 after helping his father run them for many years. For more than 30 years, Conover worked hard and grew the papers into strong and well-respected parts of their communities.
Before Conover fell ill last year he was still actively involved in selling advertising for the papers. According to his family, he found great joy in meeting and serving his clients.
"Our dad was an amazing example of community service," said Christi Babbitt, one of Conover's daughters. "He was always involved in and supporting activities and programs in the community. He spent hours doing everything from setting up tents for the Folkfest to making scones at the Kiwanis Club fundraiser and organizing the annual Kiwanis Club's food drive. If he wasn't directly involved in an event, he was attending it to support those that were involved."
Babbitt added, "He had a real love for the arts and especially enjoyed music. He loved attending the shows at the Springville Playhouse and Utah Symphony concerts at Abravanel Hall. He was recently honored by the choirs at Springville Junior High School for his many years of publishing, for free, notice of arts events in Springville's schools."
Conover was an ardent supporter of the Springville World Folkfest from its beginning and served on its board for many years, most recently as chairman of the board. He was named as a board member emeritus shortly before his death. Much of the success and longevity of the Folkfest can be directly attributed to Conover and his work to see it succeed.
In a special statement Tuesday, Springville Mayor Wilford W. Clyde and the Springville City Council said, "We are saddened by the passing of Martin Conover earlier today. Martin along with his wife Pat and the entire Conover family have been an important part in the success of the Springville community. Their newspaper [Springville Herald] has been an institution for decades bringing the citizens the local news. Martin's support of several community groups including the Springville Museum of Art, the World Folkfest, Springville Playhouse Association, Springville Kiwanis Club and several other organizations has been invaluable. Martin and Pat Conover were approved by the city council to represent the city as Grand Marshals in the 2011 Art City Days Parade. Mr. Conover will be greatly missed by many in the Springville community."
"Our dad believed in a strong community spirit and that was the focus of everything he did, both personally and in his business. He worked tirelessly to provide a better life for Springville residents," Babbitt said.
Conover's father set the example for him and he trained his children who followed him into the newspaper business either writing, editing, publishing or selling advertising.
"It was from my dad that I received my love of journalism," Babbitt said. "Watching him be involved in the community in that way gave me the desire to serve in the same way. I have fond memories of him taking me on my Springville Herald paper route once a week when I was a child. We had to go very early in the morning when it was dark and he would teach me about the stars and constellations as we drove from house to house. Every once in a while he would take me to a restaurant for breakfast afterward as a special treat."
Conover served a mission in Tahiti for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He served in the U.S. Air Force Reserve and National Guard. He was a member of the Utah State House of Representatives and president of the Utah Press Association. He also served as president of the Springville Area Chamber of Commerce and as a board member of the Spanish Fork Chamber of Commerce.
In 2002, his Art City Publishing was named Business of the Year by the Springville Area Chamber of Commerce.
"Marty was a terrific publisher who loved the communities he served with his newspapers. In 2009, he was nominated for the Lee Enterprises Spirit award. This award recognizes employees who serve their communities and work to make it an even better place to be. Marty was truly deserving of the recognition. Marty's happy, upbeat personality will be dearly missed," said Rona Rahlf, president and publisher of the Daily Herald.
Jay Knight, a close friend said, "Martin Conover was the heartbeat of Springville. For most of my memory my family and I have always looked to Martin as the source for information. My fond memories include him being on the front row of every city council meeting and actively participating in discussions. He was always well informed and was always willing to share. Most importantly, Martin was always willing to serve. Even when he wasn't able to keep up with some of the younger set, he was always there lending his support. Martin was a true friend to Springville and an outstanding citizen. I consider his family a part of my family."
Conover was an active a member of the LDS Church and served in many callings. He greatly loved serving as a member of the branch presidency of an international branch at the LDS Missionary Training Center in Provo. Conover loved the Boys Scouts of America program, serving as a Scoutmaster for 10 years. He was a district chairman for the Boy Scouts and received the National President's Scoutmaster Award.
"He was the kind of guy everybody liked, and he liked everybody. He was gracious, but always wanted to make sure he was on the cutting edge of what was happening. I'm devastated," said Steve Densley, president of the Utah Valley Chamber of Commerce and who served with Conover in the MTC branch presidency.
Conover was known throughout the state and around the nation for his professionalism and journalism prowess. "Marty was pleasant to work with and was very young at heart. The kind of newspaper man Marty was, was really at the heart of what small town papers are about," said former Daily Herald publisher Al Manzi.
Manzi was publisher of the Daily Herald when Conover sold his papers to the company that owned the Herald. Manzi noted that while some would have been bitter about losing ownership, Conover's "entrepreneurial family embraced their new culture with a smile."
Local business owner and family friend, Tom Grassley said, "I've known Martin since we first opened our small shop in Springville in 1981. He helped us figure out our advertising budget in those early days when we didn't know anything. We need more people like him involved in the arts, city businesses, Art City Days, etc. He was everywhere. Did he ever miss a city council meeting? I don't think so. Martin is irreplaceable. I am proud to say he was my friend for 30 years and proud to say the rest of the Conover family are good friends too."
Cheryl K. Brewer, managing editor of the Mt. Pleasant Pyramid and Pyramid Shopper speaks with fondness of her old boss and mentor. "He not only was my boss, but I also counted him as my friend. I developed a special bond with his family. I had the privilege of working with all of them for the past 15 years."
Brewer said that Conover foresaw the need to reach every household with a product that could also take care of all advertising for grocery stores, hardware, etc. So he came up with the idea of The Pyramid Shopper, which today serves almost 10,000 households in Sanpete County, a successful venture. That was his brainchild, she added.
"I was so sorry to hear of his passing," Brewer said. "I will miss his smile, his infectious, raucous laugh, keen sense of humor and a work ethic that few can compare with. I know all of us here at the paper will miss his phone calls, or popping in unannounced just to visit."
One of his many clients, Kevin Dunn, owner of the Big O Tire Stores in Spanish Fork, Payson and Nephi said, "Marty Conover was a true newspaperman, and I say that with greatest respect. I am sure he had ink running in his veins. He was colorful, inquisitive, friendly and eager to help. His mind was sharp and full of promotional ideas that helped both consumers and retailers throughout Central Utah. I loved both Marty's wit and his wisdom. More than that, I loved him as a friend."
Another client, Rocky Giles, of Rocky's Tire Pros in Spanish Fork, said, "Martin had such a positive outlook on life. He was happy-go-lucky and extremely grateful for what he had. He had a great outlook on life, and was doing what he loved to do. He spoke his mind and you never had to wonder what he was thinking."
According to Conover's daughter Marcia Harris, "If anything was wrong, my father always said 'the sun will come up tomorrow.' And while we will miss him we believe the sun will truly come up."
Conover is survived by his wife, Pat, of Springville; children Craig (DeAnne), Christi Babbitt (Ray) and Marcia Harris (Todd), all of Springville; two foster children: Camille Duffin (Mike) of Springville and Maritta Tekala of Orem; 10 grandchildren; sister Mary Cox, of Springville; and father-in-law O. Staker Olsen, of Salt Lake City.
Funeral services will be held Saturday, March 12, at 11 a.m. at the Hobble Creek West LDS Stake Center, 555 S. 600 East, Springville. A viewing will be held on Friday, March 11, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Wheeler Mortuary, 211 E. 200 South, Springville, and the next morning from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. at the church.
Interment will be in the Springville Evergreen Cemetery.