GRANGEVILLE — A lifetime career in the newspaper business will come to an end Sept. 30 for Andy McNab.
After more than 40 years in the industry — 23 of it as publisher of the Idaho County Free Press — McNab will retire. Taking his place will be general manager Sarah Klement who will be making Free Press history in her own rite: Klement will be the first female publisher of the paper in its nearly 130-year existence.
McNab started his career in The Dalles, Ore., while still in high school. He began on the press side and went on to study graphics technology at community college in Portland. He began in Hood River as an ad sales representative, using his press and graphics background to assist him.
“I was able to do more jobs, was more well-rounded, knew my way around the darkroom, the press and had a bit of an eye for the graphics end,” he said.
He and his wife, Lynda, met at a party in 1973 and married in 1974. It was at that same party that his brother, Pete, and Lynda’s sister, Jamie, also met. They also eventually married.
At the age of 25, McNab was offered the opportunity to become the publisher of The Goldendale Sentinel in Goldendale, Wash.
“I was excited because it would allow me to create my own newspaper in many ways,” he said. “It was a lot of on-the-job training and learning to work with many different personalities.”
In 1984 he purchased the Sentinel from Eagle Newspapers, Inc. While still sitting at the helm as owner and publisher, McNab was asked by Eagle to take the Free Press publisher job in 1993.
“I had never been to Grangeville but I asked a friend of mine – former Free Press publisher Bill Cassell – what he thought and he said, ‘go for it.’” McNab recalled. “It was a great decision. I came sight unseen and have never looked back.”
McNab still had to run the Sentinel which meant a lot of phone calls and long drives.
The McNabs by then had three sons: Kevin was a sophomore in high school, Scott was in junior high and Keith was in elementary school.
“I would work until five, drive to Goldendale, work there at night, and drive back,” he said.
That ended in 2011 when he sold the Goldendale newspaper to the current editor.
“It was hard to let go, but Lynda was pretty pleased that we were able to let that go and let go of a little bit of stress,” he said.
McNab said he has enjoyed his time at the Free Press but decided to retire when he turns 62 in September and enjoy many of the activities he has come to love in Idaho County, especially golf and hunting.
Lynda will continue to work part time as a dental hygienist for the time being and the couple plan to spend time with their sons and families, which includes three grandchildren.
Though the McNab’s house is for sale, they have no plans to move out of the area right now.
“We are just trying to downsize a little and have less to take care of,” he said.
As for his replacement, McNab said he is confident Klement can take the Free Press into the future with its print editions and its increasing digital media presence.
Klement, of White Bird, has lived in the area since she was a toddler. She is a 2008 graduate of Grangeville High School and studied journalism at the University of Idaho. She and her husband, Dean, a rancher, have one child, Mikayla Rae, 6.
Starting at the age of 16, Klement began her career at the Free Press as an intern.
“I basically camped out until Andy gave me a job,” she joked. It was at that same time she began teasing McNab, “someday I’m going to be publisher of this paper!”
She worked in the editorial department throughout college and when a position came open in ad sales, she took it. She began full-time work at the paper in 2011.
Her teasing became a reality last month when she was offered the publisher job by Eagle Newspaper, Inc., president Joe Petshow.
“Sarah … will serve the community well,” Petshow stated. “She has the acumen to continue to publish a great community newspaper, as well as the skill set to take the Free Press into the next stage in its development as a news disseminator.”
“I’m excited for this journey,” Klement said. “I’ve learned a lot about community newspapering in the past nine years and I look forward to learning much more.”