Former Record-Courier owner dies in Virginia |

Former Record-Courier owner dies in Virginia

Staff Report

A former publisher and editor of The Record-Courier died Monday, Dec. 2.

Michael Antone “Tony” Payton, 62, died suddenly at his home in Arlington, Va.

Born in Spearville, Kan., Payton was raised in Bucklin, Kan., and Clayton, NM.

A third-generation journalist, Payton was an award-winning reporter and editor.

Payton worked as a beat reporter for the Arizona Daily Star in Tucson, Ariz., and the Orange Coast Daily Pilot in Orange County, Calif., before buying The Record-Courier in partnership with Tom Dickerson.

Payton served as co-publisher and editor of The Record-Courier from 1963 to 1971. He and Dickerson also owned the Lovelock Review-Miner from 1966 to 1970.

“The press they had back then, I thought Ben Franklin was working there,” remembered David Towell, a Valley local and former U.S. Congressman from Nevada.

Payton won more than a dozen newspaper writing awards in Nevada, California and Texas.

While living in Gardnerville, Payton founded the Carson Valley chapter of The Young Republicans. He held memberships in the Rotary, the Carson Valley Chamber of Commerce and Toastmasters, and he participated in a journalism club based in Reno.

“That’s pretty good for a couple of guys working 70 hour weeks,” Dickerson noted of his friend and partner.

As a journalist, Payton saw firsthand how local politics directly affected everyday life. In 1964 he became a grassroots crusader in the presidential campaign for Barry Goldwater.

Having tasted the thrill of political participation, Payton went on to work for successful congressional candidates and later as the Western states field man for the Republican National Committee during the mid-1970s. He pulled several shifts on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., serving as chief of staff to a congressman and two U.S. Senators.

Wrapping his personal and professional experience together, Payton hung out his shingle as a political consultant in 1977, working on several successful campaigns in Nevada, Alaska and Alabama, including Towell’s campaigns.

“His knowledge of newpaper business was tremendously helpful,” Towell said. (Payton and Dickerson) know all the big guys and the small guys throughout the state.”

Payton was known as a man who had great fun and saw the humorous side of political campaigns. However, he never forgot the seriousness of what was at stake in any given election. He dedicated his professional career to limiting the role of government in the lives of its citizens.

Payton was also an accomplished pilot who could often be found flying his Cessna 182 up and down the East Coast.

As an enthusiast of fine food and superb wine, his friends and family counted on him to lead them to the best restaurants in every part of the country and to share both his cellar and his passion.

“No wimpy wines” were tolerated, according to his family.

“Once in awhile, we were really concerned with the price of wine he ordered,” Towell said.

In recent years, Payton has been working on a book of campaign stories, drawing on the experiences of 75 Washington campaign managers.

“It’s about things that happened on the campaign trail, more or less, funny things and things that didn’t get into print,” said Towell who plans to work toward its publication.

Services for Tony Payton will be held today, Dec. 7, in Arlington.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Paul W. Payton and Betty Sellers, and his brothers Charlie Payton and Nick Payton.

He is survived by his sister, Lani Hammond; children Michael, Kersti, Peter, Zachary and Claire; and his partner, Ladonna Y. Lee.