Former Post owner/editor John Samuelson dies at 95
This article was first published in the Tuesday, March 8, 2011 edition of the Glenwood Springs Post Independent. By John Stroud.
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado — Local journalism lost another of its voices of the past on Saturday, March 5, when former Glenwood Post owner and editor John Samuelson passed away at the Rifle Veterans Home, at the age of 95.
He is the second newspapering legend from the Roaring Fork Valley to die in recent weeks, following on the heels of longtime Aspen Times owner Bil Dunaway, who died Feb. 25 at the age of 87.
Samuelson and his wife, Angie, who died in 2002, owned the Glenwood Post, predecessor of today’s Post Independent, for four years in the late 1960s. But the family legacy at the newspaper dated back to 1936 when John’s parents, Jack and Rose Samuelson, first bought the paper.
John Samuelson was born April 21, 1915, in Minneapolis, Minn., and graduated high school there in 1933 before the family moved to Colorado.
“John and his brother, Jim, and two sisters helped run the paper,” said John’s daughter, Chris Samuelson of Glenwood Springs. The girls stepped in to help out their parents during World War II, when both boys enlisted in the service.
After the war, John enrolled in the school of journalism at the University of Colorado, graduating in 1946.
“He helped run the paper with his folks,” Chris Samuelson said. “Being a local sports reporter was his favorite job.”
The father-son team was also instrumental with their community involvement and editorial support for community projects, such as the fund drive to build Valley View Hospital in 1955.
“They ran a front-page editorial to help get the start-up funds for the hospital building,” Chris Samuelson said.
John Samuelson later served on the original board to create Colorado Mountain College in the mid-1960s, was among the founders of the Glenwood Springs Golf Club, and also helped with the promotion to build the Sunlight ski area.
“I went into journalism school because I figured I would have a job after college,” Samuelson said in a 2007 interview with Post Independent correspondent Mike Vidakovich. “My folks would have to hire me, and they did.”
The newspaper also introduced Samuelson to the woman he would later marry, Angie Gamba. She had moved to Glenwood Springs with her family, and wandered into the newspaper office looking for a house to rent or buy.
They married in 1947 and raised five children in Glenwood Springs.
John and Angie Samuelson, along with brother Jim, purchased the Glenwood Post from the elder Samuelsons in 1966. John later bought out his brother, and served as managing editor until selling the paper in 1970 to the Stauffer Publishing Co. from Topeka, Kan.
“They agreed to buy the paper and rent the building from us,” Samuelson said in the 2007 interview, referring to the former Glenwood Post office at the northeast corner of Eighth and Colorado. “They also agreed to hire Angie and myself. It was a good opportunity.”
The couple continued to work for the Stauffer’s, John as a proofreader and Angie at the front desk, until 1982.
“He was really proud about being a member of the business community, and the community at large,” said John’s son, Glenn Samuelson of Eagle.
“All of us kids and the cousins worked at the newspaper in some way,” Chris Samuelson added. “I had a paper route from the time I was 8.”
She recalled that one of her cousins even lost a finger to a paper trimming and folding machine.
“The business during those years also printed the fledgling Vail Trail newspaper, and had large job presses in the back that served the town’s printing needs,” she said.
Glenwood Springs native Bob Zanella, who worked for the Glenwood Post after Samuelson’s retirement, also remembered having a paper route as a grade school student and first meeting Samuelson then.
“He was one of the stalwarts of the community for a lot of years there,” he said. “He was the voice of the community during that time.”
John was an avid golfer, and continued to travel and play golf in retirement until his health worsened, said his daughter.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Angie, daughter-in-law Terrie, and son-in-law Dean Smith.
He is survived by his five children, Christine (Chris) Samuelson of Glenwood Springs, Lauraine and husband Joe Skolasinski of Vail, David and Karen Samuelson of Glenwood Springs, Paul Samuelson of Silt, and Glenn Samuelson of Eagle, plus several grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
A private burial service is planned, to be followed by a community memorial service later this spring.