Dean McNaughton, the patriarch of the McNaughton family who acquired the family’s newspaper holdings in California — including the Daily Republic, is the 2013 inductee into the California Newspaper Hall of Fame.
McNaughton was born March 6, 1923, in Bicknell, Ind. He attended high school in Pekin, Ill., where he starred in football as quarterback and on the track team. He was president of his class during his junior and senior years.
He attended Depauw University for one year and then transferred to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated in 1945. While at West Point, he met a young coed named Alzina “Zee” Gay at Mount Holyoke College. He met up with her again in Germany, when he served as the aide to Gen. Hobart Gay, her father. They fell in love and, within a year, they were married.
In 1950, Dean left the Army and moved back to Pekin to help run the family newspaper. He worked side by side with his father, Foye Fisk “F.F.” McNaughton. He soon took over as publisher.
In 1960, Dean flew to San Diego with the purpose of purchasing a newspaper out West. He ended up buying the weekly Solano Republican, which he quickly upgraded to a daily newspaper and renamed the Daily Republic.
Dean published a front-page column the day the ownership change was announced in the newspaper in January 1961. In it, he wrote of the family’s commitment to grow with the community.
Dean purchased the Mountain Democrat in Placerville in 1965 and The Davis Enterprise in 1967. During these years, he remained publisher of the Pekin Daily Times as well as overseeing the California properties with Don Hancock.
McNaughton Newspapers includes The Winters Express, purchased in 1994; Village Life in El Dorado Hills and Cameron Park Life, purchased in 1997; and the Georgetown Gazette, purchased in 2004.
The papers have remained a family enterprise. Dean’s son Foy is CEO of McNaughton Newspapers and publisher of the Daily Republic, and Burt is publisher of The Davis Enterprise. Foy McNaughton’s son T. Burt McNaughton is general manager of the Daily Republic.
Dean McNaughton died in June 2012 at age 89.
*Hall of Fame inductees are selected annually by a committee appointed by the California Press Foundation. They recognize career achievements of weekly and daily publishers in California who were important and influential in their era, as judged by their peers in the association. The write-ups are a historical and journalistic snapshot in time and not official biographies.*