W. Clark Gallagher, former general manager of the Democrat-Herald, past president of the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association and publisher of newspapers in Springfield, Newport and Hillsboro, died New Year’s Day after an accident at his home in Bend. He was 71.
Friends and former coworkers praised Gallagher as a “mentor,” someone who “always had a smile on his face,” and a person with “a heart for his community.”
Albany businessman Mark Thomas had been friends with Gallagher since the early 1970s, “when we both had long hair and he looked like Jesus.”
Thomas' family owned a foreign car dealership in Bend and Gallagher was an advertising representative for the Bulletin newspaper.
“I was in college and he worked with my dad at first and then with me when I went to work for the company” Thomas said. “He was a helluva newspaperman and was involved in everything in the community. He saw every facet of newspapering.”
Thomas called his friend a “truly good person” who was always upbeat and “a lot of fun.”
Former Democrat-Herald publisher John Buchner worked with Gallagher for many years and called him an outstanding newspaperman, family man and community member.
“Clark was a key sales executive for the Democrat-Herald and its sister publications,” he said. “I’m grateful for his expertise and dedication while I was general manager and publisher. He first worked for me as a retail advertising manager and after serving as publisher of the Springfield News, I brought him back to Albany as general manager in charge of all sales.”
Gallagher was later promoted to publisher of the Newport News-Times, another Democrat-Herald sister publication at that time.
“He was good with people and truly believed that the newspaper was a partner with local businesses in promotions and sales,” Buchner said. “He also was a leader within the Rotary Club and the Chamber of Commerce. And on top of everything else, he was a great husband and father to his family.”
Buchner praised Gallagher as, “the kind of individual a company highly values in the workforce. He will be missed.”
Gallagher retired from the Hillsboro Argus — a sister publication to the Portland Oregonian — at the end of 2011.
He and his wife, Kimberly, a retired schoolteacher, moved from Albany to Bend in 2015.
Under Gallagher’s leadership, the Argus was an award-winning newspaper, and in 2009 it earned the prestigious General Excellence award for its circulation category in the annual Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association Better Newspaper Contest.
“I am terribly sad to hear about the loss of Clark. He was a great newspaperman,” said ONPA executive director Laurie Hieb. “Clark engaged himself in the community his newspaper served and was very well-liked. He was the president of ONPA when I was hired as executive director. Clark was a huge supporter of mine as well as the association. I will never forget all of the encouragement and guidance he gave me during that time. He will be greatly missed.”
Gallagher spent more than 40 years in the newspaper business, including stints as the advertising supervisor of The Bulletin in Bend; advertising director and then general manager of the Democrat-Herald; editor and publisher of the Springfield News and Newport News-Times, and publisher of the Hillsboro Argus.
Gallagher was actively involved in every community, and a lifelong Rotarian.
He was a past chairman of the board of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce and was honored as an Albany First Citizen.
“During the late '90s Clark was a board member and served as chairman in 1997-‘98” said Janet Steele, president of the Albany Area Chamber of Commerce. “During his tenure, the chamber developed our first strategic long-term plan and did a complete remodel of the office. He was a people person and well respected in the community. I've been privileged to work with 30 different board chairs over the years and Clark was one of the best.”
He was also active with the Yaquina Bay Economic Development Foundation and the United Way of Linn County.
“Clark was a very positive guy. There was always a great vibe of goodwill and constructive energy coming off him. It sounds like a cliché’, but he really did always have a smile on his face, or most of the time anyway,” said Steve Lundeberg, who worked with Gallagher at the Springfield and Albany newspapers. “Clark was very approachable, very human. He made me feel at home when I was hired as sports editor of the Springfield News when I was basically just a kid.”
Lundeberg, now a writer at Oregon State, said Gallagher, “… had a fun-loving nature and a presence that exuded leadership. I really liked him; the last great age of newspapering has lost another of its bright lights.”
Oweta Smith worked in the Democrat-Herald’s advertising department for more than 20 years.
“When I think of Clark, I think of what a wonderful, nice man, so generous with his talents, a mentor to myself and many of the advertising people on the staff,” she said. “I really enjoyed working with him. He was even-tempered, approachable, and a hands-on leader. He saw himself as a mentor and not someone who just ordered people around.”
Gallagher is survived by Kimberly, his wife of 44 years, a son, Matthew Brett Gallagher and his wife, Alysia, of Ogden, Utah; and a daughter, Tiffany Suzanne LeClair and her husband Eric, of Minneapolis, Minnesota. His first grandchild is due in May.
Arrangements are by Niswonger-Reynolds Funeral Home, Bend, at www.niswonger-reynolds.com/.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Humane Society of Central Oregon, 61170 SE 27th St., Bend, OR 97702 or at www.hsco.org.
Private family services at the Oregon coast are planned.