The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

By David Stevens
Publisher 

In tribute: Colorful Clovis publisher dies at 77

 

Last updated 3/13/2021 at 3:56pm

Salter

Bill Salter had an opinion about everything and he loved sharing.

Whether he was promoting the revitalization of downtown Clovis, criticizing the liberal politicians in Washington or debating proper spelling or punctuation, he was a force that demanded attention as the colorful publisher of the Clovis News Journal from 1990 to 1994.

Salter, who died Monday at age 77 after battling Alzheimer’s disease, expressed many of his views in his controversial William Tells column published regularly on Page 2.

He challenged local, state and federal public officials in that space, always loudly siding with private enterprise over the bureaucrats of government. His columns often ended with a “(Bill) Clinton Joke/Absurdity of the Week.”

“If he was for you, he would fight for you,” remembered Gary Mitchell, a longtime reporter at the CNJ.

And he did like to fight.

Mitchell remembered Salter challenging the newsroom when their views didn’t match.

Once, Mitchell wrote a story that included a reference to a “Caesarian section.”

“Bill came out of his office and wanted to know who wrote that story,” Mitchell said. Salter was unhappy because he believed the term was “cesarian.”

“I told him I spelled it that way because that’s how it was in the dictionary,” Mitchell said. Salter inspected the newsroom dictionaries, then ordered all of them donated to the public library. He replaced them with dictionaries that stated “cesarian” was the preferred term for the surgical procedure.

One of Salter’s first acts as the publisher of the Clovis News-Journal in April 1990 was to remove its hyphen. “We’re not a hyphenated entity that can’t decide whether it wants to be a News or a Journal,” he declared.

That headstrong attitude benefited Clovis in many ways, Mitchell said. He said no one ever doubted Salter’s love for Clovis was real and his efforts to improve its quality of life sincere.

He worked tirelessly for the Chamber of Commerce, especially in its attempt to revitalize downtown and Main Street. He was involved in multiple charity organizations. “He was community minded,” Mitchell said.

Longtime Clovis/Curry County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Ernie Kos said “colorful” is the perfect description for Salter.

“Bill loved our community and I considered him a huge promoter of Clovis,” she said.

“What I knew that most people may not is that Bill was fun.”

That humor came out around 2003 at a gathering of Freedom Communications editors and publishers when Salter declared Clovis “the most Libertarian city in the world.”

He was referring to the community’s lack of traffic signs at some of its neighborhood intersections. “Everybody just does what they want,” he said.

In 1994, the Clovis newspaper’s parent company – Freedom – reassigned Salter to the publisher position in Odessa, Texas, where he remained until his retirement in 2003.

“Bill Salter was a dedicated newspaperman who cared about the communities he served, and he strove to keep them informed,” said Pat Canty, today’s publisher at the Odessa American.

“But first and foremost he was a defender of liberty, and individual rights and responsibility. And he felt passionately about the role newspapers played in helping to promote and defend those rights.”

Salter began his career with Freedom newspapers in 1976 at the Brownsville Herald, serving as its managing editor, until becoming editor of the Panama City (Florida) News Herald in 1980. He remained there until moving to Clovis.

In 1997, Salter became the first recipient of the R.C. Hoiles Award, named after the founder of Freedom.

Salter’s William Tells column was published from 1962 to 2008, and appeared in 12 different newspapers.

He is survived by his wife Sherry, who appeared as “Miss Kitty” in his columns and son Jeff, who appeared in some columns as “Yellowbeard Jr.”

The Odessa American contributed to this report.

 
 

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