Newspaper publisher, owner dies at 70

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Dennis Richardson

Dennis Richardson, owner of Magic Valley Publishing Inc. and beloved husband, father, and grandfather, passed away suddenly and peacefully at his Camden home on Monday, July 26. 

Born in Nashville on March 23, 1951, he was the youngest of seven children. His father was a sharecropper who provided well for his family, but passed away when Dennis was only two years old.

After graduating from Joelton High School, Dennis attended the UT Martin where he studied engineering. He transferred to UT Knoxville to study journalism, but returned to finish at UTM where he graduated and met his wife, Lisa Hatley Richardson. 

His journalism career began at the Paris Post Intelligencer (PI) as sports editor. After a couple of years at the PI and a short time at the Carroll County News, he was hired as editor of the Weakley County Press (Martin) by Randal Benderman, who became his lifelong mentor in newspaper publishing.

Dennis left the Weakley County Press and moved to Clarksville to work as a copy editor at the state’s oldest continuously published newspaper, the Leaf-Chronicle.

Dennis and Lisa became newspaper publishers in 1983 when they purchased the Carroll County News (Huntingdon). Soon after, they incorporated the business as Magic Valley Publishing, Inc. (MVP). Later in 1992, MVP purchased the Carroll Leader merging it with the Carroll County News to create the Carroll County News-Leader. In 1994, Dennis added The Camden Chronicle to MVP.

Over the years, more acquisitions followed. These included the Print Shop (Waverly), Fulton Leader (Ky.), Hickman County Gazette (Ky.), Hickman Courier (Ky.), Carlisle Weekly (Ky.), Ballard Weekly (Ky.), Dekalb Co. News, Crockett County Times, Lake County Banner (Tiptonville), Waverly NewsDemocrat, Buffalo River Review (Linden), Wayne County News (Waynesboro), Chester County Independent (Henderson), The Leader (Covington), Collierville Herald, Collierville Independent, Bartlett Express, Shelby Sun-Times, Germantown News, Millington Star, Shopper News (Gibson), and the Dresden Enterprise. MVP also started a regional travel magazine, Discover West Tennessee, in December 2020.

Dennis also was the owner of two radio stations, WRJB 95.9 FM and WFWL 1220 AM in Camden. In addition to the many businesses he managed under the MVP umbrella, he and Lisa ran MVP as a family business, working with many members of the extended Richardson and Hatley families, along with their three sons, who still function in key roles in the company.

He spent several years working as a newspaper broker, first for W.B. Grimes and Co. of New York, then on his own. While working for W.B. Grimes, Dennis brokered the largest newspaper deal in the company’s history in 2006, working tirelessly for months to close the deal.

During 38 years as an employer with hundreds of employees over that time, no case comes to the memory of his family where he denied an employee a vacation request, or a pay advance when an employee facing financial hardships requested it. Many who left the company returned in time, and several employees have worked for MVP for more than 15 years.

Dennis was a long-time member and deacon at the Camden Church of Christ, a Rotarian, first as a charter member of Rotary Club of Huntingdon and then the Rotary Club of Camden. He served on directorial boards for the Tennessee Newspaper Association, National Newspaper Association, Carey Counseling Center, and various other organizations throughout his life.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Samuel Loren and Ella Matthews Richardson; three brothers, Sam Richardson, Jim Richardson, and John Richardson, and two sisters, Betty Armstrong and Frances Richardson.

Dennis leaves behind his beloved wife of 46 years, Lisa; three sons, Mark (Angie), Matthew, and Daniel (Lena) Richardson; one daughter, Gerilyn (Clint) Burnett; five granddaughters, Anistyn, Ashby, Emmalyn, Elizabeth, and Ella Richardson; one grandson, Mason Richardson; and one sister, Ruth Johnson. 

The family will receive visitors on Thursday, July 29, from 5 to 8 p.m. and Friday, July 30, from 10 to 11 a.m. at Plunk Funeral Home in Camden. Funeral services will be held Friday at 11 a.m. in the Plunk Chapel with interment following at Eastview Cemetery.