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Former Searchlight Publisher Dies At 87

Harry “Skip” Downs, former publisher of The Herald-News and The Searchlight, died Sunday, Dec. 16, after a year-long battle to recover from a debilitating stroke in November 2017.
Harry, a longtime resident of Wolf Point, died at Northeast Montana Health Services - Trinity Hospital in Wolf Point after being hospitalized for several months.
He started his career in newspapers when he was 10 years old, with a delivery route for the Minneapolis Star, and could still be found delivering newsstands weekly around Wolf Point until the time of his stroke.
He followed in his father Harry’s and mother Mamie’s footsteps, working at The Herald-News for many years after moving to Wolf Point in 1946 when his father and a partner purchased the newspaper. The Downses also purchased The Poplar Standard and The
(Culbertson) Searchlight.
Harry became publisher of the papers after selling them in 1999.
He was honored with a President’s Award by the Montana Newspaper Association in 1990 for his years of service on the board and was presented with the Master Editor/Publisher Award in 1994. He attended 70 MNA conventions over the past 72 years and only missed two while he was overseas serving in the U.S. Navy — an attendance record that will likely not be broken.
Andrew McKean of Glasgow, who started his newspaper career in Wolf Point and is former editor-in-chief of Outdoor Life, said, “Harry — I can’t help but call him Skip — was one of my first and best bosses. And hunting partners. He was a wise and gentle man.”
“Harry Downs was a pillar of one of Montana’s proudest newspaper legacies, helping guide the Wolf Point Herald-News and the Culbertson Searchlight through some 80 years of family operation,” said Matt Gibson, new executive director of the Montana Newspaper Association and past MNA president. “He represented the best of Montana’s community publishers and remained committed to the work, now carried on by his daughter Darla Downs, throughout his life.”
No services are being planned at this time. His full obituary can be found on page five of this week’s paper.