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Special recognition for deserving couple

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A special couple with generous hearts was honored by the North Dakota Newspaper Association Thursday night, and appropriately so.

Don and Betty Witham, founders of the weekly West Fargo Pioneer in 1967, have been staunch supporters of journalism and community causes since their beginning days, and continued to do so up until the sale of the company and their retirement at the end of 2004.

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They reinforced their giving nature last year with an endowment to carry on their dedicated newspaper commitment - a $100,000 contribution to the North Dakota Newspaper Association Education Foundation (NDNAEF) that has been earmarked for a series of future newspaper symposiums in the Witham's name in North Dakota, the first of which has already been scheduled for June in Bismarck. The foundation is an extension of the 90-member association of North Dakota daily and weekly newspapers.

NDNA kicked off the opening night of their annual state convention at the Fargo Air Museum by honoring the Withams for their contributions to the world of newspapers throughout the years, and for their heartfelt gift that will go a long way in educating the ranks in the print profession.

The only sad note of the evening was that Betty couldn't be present because of recent medical issues.

The evening of dining and entertainment was interspersed with visiting (mostly reminiscing) by longtime friends of the Withams within the newspaper industry, who remembered the couple for their integrity and humble ways.

Don Gackle of Garrison, Witham's longtime friend and outgoing president of the NDNAEF, commended the couple when the contribution was made. "Don, with his wife Betty at his side, founded a newspaper and built it into a major printing business. He is a fine example of a newspaper and printing entrepreneur who has shared generously his success and good fortune."

Mr. W. was deeply touched by the overwhelming outpouring of support in preserving his legacy, as accolades were bestowed at the Air Museum, saying he was proud and pleased to be able to give back to a profession that had been his lifeline for over four decades.

Several of us from the West Fargo Pioneer office were in attendance in support of the man who had been our boss for so many years.

It was an honor and a privilege, and indeed a fitting testimonial to a truly deserving couple.

khuber@westfargopioneer.com

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