DENVER -- Richard B. Scudder, whose career as a newspaper pioneer extended from newsprint to the digital age and included being a co-founder of the company that owns this newspaper, died early Wednesday in New Jersey. He was 99.
Scudder teamed up with William Dean Singleton to build Denver-based MediaNews Group into the nation's second-largest newspaper company by circulation. Singleton has called Scudder not only a trusted business partner but his best friend, spiritual leader and "the conscience of the company."
Scudder is survived by three daughters, Jean Fulmer of Maine, Carolyn Miller of Pennsylvania, and Holly Difiani of New Mexico; son Charles Scudder of Oregon; and nine grandchildren.
Scudder and Singleton forged a decades-long business partnership starting with the 1983 purchase of The Gloucester County Times in New Jersey. They combined with Media General Inc. to form Garden States Newspapers in 1985, and then launched MediaNews Group as an umbrella company.
Scudder retired as chairman of MediaNews Group on Nov. 30, 2009. In 2010, he surrendered his holdings as part of a court-approved reorganization. MediaNews Group now operates under the management of Digital First Media.
Gregory L. Moore, editor of The Denver Post, said journalism has lost a "stalwart."
"Dick loved all of his newspapers like family, exalting in the good that was done," Moore said. "He truly believed the newspaper was the righteous defender of the common man."
While Singleton largely has been the face of MediaNews Group, Scudder had a behind-the-scenes hand in the operations. He used to make regular appearances in the newspapers' newsrooms, where he liked to rub elbows with reporters and editors and chat about the stories of the day.
In a column he wrote for The Denver Post in 1992, Scudder defined the excellence he hoped to reflect in his newspapers: "To us, it means that a newspaper must achieve absolute integrity. It must subordinate its narrow interests to those of its community. It must have compassion. It must be objective and fair, and it must have the determination and ability to genuinely serve its area. It must have judgment. It must listen."
Scudder was inducted in 1995 into The Paper Industry Hall of Fame. The honor recognized his work as co-inventor in the 1950s of a newspaper de-inking process that he tested first in a wash basin of his office, later in a food blender and eventually in labs at Syracuse University. Ultimately, the process gave birth to a new industry: newspaper recycling. By cleansing the ink from the fibers, newspapers could use discarded product to manufacture fresh newsprint.
Born May 13, 1913, in Newark, N.J., Scudder earned an economics degree from Princeton University in 1935 and then worked as a reporter at the Boston Herald and then at the Newark Evening News, which had been founded by his grandfather in 1882. He would work at the Newark newspaper for 30 years, ending that run as publisher in 1972.
David J. Butler, the vice president of news for MediaNews Group and editor of this newspaper, said, "The biggest thing about Dick was his perseverance, Perseverance is what we need in the newspaper today more than ever, and he was a shining example of doing that."