Longtime 'Casa Grande Dispatch' Publisher Dies at 84

By: Donovan Kramer Sr., longtime publisher of the Casa Grande Dispatch and owner of several weekly community newspapers in Arizona, died Sunday. He was 84.

Kramer died at Casa Grande Regional Medical Center of complications from pulmonary and renal failure. Services are pending.

"Mr. Kramer was a true gentleman who dedicated his life to community journalism," said Michelle Williams, chief of bureau for The Associated Press in Arizona. "His legacy lives on through his newspapers, which cover the communities they serve with a sense of purpose and history that's rooted in decades of ownership by Mr. Kramer and his family."

Kramer, son of a weekly newspaper editor and publisher in Illinois, and his wife, Ruth, purchased the Casa Grande Dispatch in 1962 after a vacation in Arizona. They converted the Dispatch from a weekly to a daily in the 1970s. They soon bought weekly newspapers in Eloy, Coolidge, Florence and the White Mountains, and later opened papers in Arizona City and Maricopa.

Kramer served in World War II and studied journalism at the University of Illinois, where he was a member of Sigma Delta Chi, now the Society of Professional Journalists. He graduated in 1948 and became editor and publisher of the Fairbury (Ill.) Blade.

Kramer also worked to bring economic development to Pinal County. When the region lost 2,500 copper mining jobs in 1977, Kramer helped persuade state highway officials to add an Interstate 8 interchange in Casa Grande. He was a driving force in developing Casa Grande's first business park and attracting major employers, including Abbott Laboratories and Frito-Lay.

Kramer served on a number of boards, often as a leader, over the years. They included the Arizona Board of Transportation; a state Department of Commerce advisory board; founding president of what is now the Central Arizona Regional Economic Development Foundation; president of the Casa Grande Industrial Development Authority; and president of the Casa Grande Rotary Club.

He was a longtime member of the Arizona Newspapers Association and president in 1980. ANA named him a master editor-publisher in 1976. He was inducted into the Arizona Newspaper Hall of Fame in 1998 and honored in 2006 by the Society of Professional Journalists, Valley of the Sun Phoenix Chapter, for his work in community journalism.

Kramer is survived by his wife, two sons, two daughters, a brother and four grandchildren. Ruth Kramer long has been vice president of Casa Grande Valley Newspapers Inc. His son Donovan Kramer Jr., is managing editor and associate publisher of the Dispatch, and daughter Kara K. Cooper is advertising director.


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