AAN Founder Victim of Lung Cancer

Organized the first annual convention

Darrell Oldham, one of the original founders of AAN (then called NAAN) and a person deeply respected within the alternative newsweekly and Seattle publishing industries, died early Saturday morning from lung cancer.

Oldham is a major figure in AAN’s 24-year history. He was one of the association’s original founders and spearheaded the first annual convention, which was held in 1978 in Seattle. He also served as the organization’s second President.

“With alternative newsweeklies well-established these days, it is hard to remember the rag-tag, shaky, nearly invisible state of our industry in 1978,” says Steve McNamara, editor and publisher of Pacific Sun.

“I had been at it for 12 years when a letter arrived from Darrell announcing a convention of like-minded publications. A convention! Were there enough of us to fill a room?” recalls McNamara, who was elected first president of the National Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, as it was first called. “It was an amazing thought. Even more amazing was the event itself, which fairly roared with enthusiasm and (of course) contention.”

Oldham was co-founder of Seattle Weekly in 1976 and was vice president of sales and marketing until 1986. He left the Weekly for the Seattle Times and was there for 10 years in a variety of senior management positions.

In recent years, he served as principal of Sound Marketing Services in Seattle, a publishing and recruiting consulting firm.

“He was beloved, adored, worshipped and admired! Shall I go on?” says Ellen Cole, who worked with Oldham at Seattle Weekly.

“He loved the business and was very good at it, but more than that he was a kind, ethical and loving human being,” McNamara says. “As an industry we couldn’t have been called to order by a better exemplar.”

A memorial service will be held next Monday at St. Mark’s Cathedral, 1245 10th Ave. E., Seattle. Memorial gifts may be made to Providence Hospice of Seattle; 425 Pontius Ave., Suite 300; Seattle, WA 98109.