Former newspaper manager commits suicide
Havre Daily News was among newspaperman's holdings.
POCATELLO, Idaho (AP) - George Nicholas ''Nick'' Ifft III, former president and general manager of the Idaho State Journal, died Tuesday of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said. He was 76.
Ifft served the paper from 1966 to 1984. Since retirement, he was known as a community philanthropist and an avid hunting dog trainer. He is survived by his wife, Sara, children William Nicholas Ifft and Martha Jean Ruby and three grandchildren.
Police Lt. Brad Hunt said the investigation was continuing but that officers believed the death to be a suicide.
Police Chief Ed Guthrie said Ifft likely killed himself while his wife was running an errand. Guthrie said Ifft left a note on the front door asking his wife not to come in, but to call police instead.
Joy Morrison, the Journal's community editor and a lifelong friend of the newspaperman, said both Ifft and his wife were struggling with health problems that ''seemed to overwhelm him.''
The Ifft family started the newspaper in 1893 and operated it, in various capacities, until 1984 when Ifft sold the family interest in the paper to his partner, James G. Scripps. Ifft also managed papers in Bozeman and Havre, Mont., and five weekly papers in Oregon.
Ifft retained the title of publisher emeritus with the current Journal parent company, Pioneer Newspapers Inc. Since his retirement, Ifft kept a close eye on the newspaper, visiting the newsroom almost daily to drink coffee, chat with editors and read the news - including the morning of his death.
''He would stand in my doorway but never set foot in my office - he would never intrude,'' said Journal publisher Stephanie Pressly. ''We got used to seeing him every morning, getting a cup of coffee and reading the papers.''
In 1967, Ifft oversaw the installation of a new color offset press at the Pocatello newspaper.
''It was a major, major shift for the newspaper. It was a new way to produce a newspaper that brought the Journal not only up to date but ahead of most,'' Ifft said in 2001 as that press was itself replaced.
Ifft and his wife founded the Ifft Foundation in 1985, which funded the G. Nicholas and Sara Ifft Speech Communication Laboratory at Idaho State University in 1999. Ifft also served on the Idaho Judicial Council, was a founding member of the Pocatello Regional Medical Center Foundation, was former director of the Henry's Fork Foundation and an elder in the Presbyterian Church.
Gov. Dirk Kempthorne lauded Ifft for his generosity.
''I'm deeply saddened by Nick's passing,'' Kempthorne said. ''I considered him a personal friend. He was a wonderful example of a generous community member. He had real input and made a difference both in southeast Idaho and throughout the state.''
Ifft was born Aug. 17, 1926, in Pocatello. He was an avid fly fisherman and spent much time at his cabin on the Henry's Fork in Island Park. He was also a duck hunter, and he loved his dogs, field trial Labradors.
Funeral arrangements were pending through Downard Hansen Funeral Home in Pocatello.