Beacon on the hill

David Sellers
Photo by Mark Hancock

The Capitol Hill Beacon was established in 1905 as the Capitol Hill News, and David Sellers became a publishing partner in 1967 after learning printing and presswork and earning his journalism degree. He is also known as a leader in the Capitol Hill and south side area of OKC, with a strong bond that runs deep in volunteerism throughout the community.

Over the decades, society and publishing changed rapidly.

The difficulty was when there was an exodus of businesses and residents from the Capitol Hill area to the suburbs in the 1970s.

“There were many factors that led to the crossroads,” Sellers said. “Businesses hold the publication together, [and] when businesses moved out, school population dropped off by half.”

Fortunately, there is a Main Street program underway to bring new life and revitalization to the Capitol Hill area.

As
the area has experienced ups and downs, Sellers too has had to adapt to
his changing neighborhood and to changes in the publishing business.

In
1945, when Eugene Sellers bought the paper, foundry type was still in
use. In the 1970s and 1980s, offset printing swept the industry. In
1985, the Beacon was the first newspaper in Oklahoma to embrace
Macintosh computers. Sellers still has one of those old computers in his
possession. It was on display at a recent farewell party for the paper
at Grill on the Hill, 324 SW 25th St.

The
newspaper has focused on local news coverage, business, community
events, classifieds and sports, but it has also covered the odd story or
two; one of the most infamous is the “bear story” in 1958. Sellers
recited the story with his own unique flair.

Buck Robinson, a rodeo clown, entertainer and rather rough character, had a rodeo act that included a black bear.

As
a practical joke, Robinson walked his 600-pound bear on a leash into
the former Capitol Hill Coffee Shop, at the time on S. Robinson Avenue
(near the Beacon office). Knowing ahead of time that this was going to happen, a Beacon photographer was there, poised to capture the moment.

The
coffee shop’s cook was frying chicken and became terrified and ran out
the door when the bear entered the restaurant. When the photographer
snapped the picture, the flashbulb exploded, scaring the bear and
causing it to run out into the street, dragging Robinson after it.

What does Sellers think will remain the same in journalism throughout time?

“There will always be a need for journalists to digest the news for others,“ he said.

In February, it was announced that the Choctaw Times purchased the Capitol Hill Beacon and transferred its subscriber base and legalities to the Mustang Times.

When asked about his philosophy on life, Sellers recounted his take on the nursery rhyme “Row, Row, Row, Your Boat”:

“Row, row, row your boat. Work your own boat; don’t work other people’s boats.

Gently down the stream — not upstream, down the stream; go with the flow.

Merrily, merrily, merrily merrily; enjoy life, enjoy yourself!

Life is but a dream. Life is a memory.

It’s what’s left. You can’t see the future. You can’t change the past. It’s a dream. All you have is right now, the present.”

Members of the community expressed their sadness that the interminable paper was finished.

“David Sellers is an amazing man, a pillar of our community, and losing the Beacon and
his honest perspective on news through his eyes leaves a void in our
neighborhood,” said Elaine Lyons, president of South Oklahoma City
Chamber of Commerce.

With
the paper sold, Sellers and his wife, Gay, plan to move to Arkansas to
be closer to their family. The couple plans to collect and organize all
of the Beacon archival material and eventually put it on the Internet.

Angela Botzer

This material falls under the archives category because it was imported from our previous website. It will eventually be filtered into the proper category as time allows.

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