Dick Stahl, Longtime Arizona Highways Editor, Dies at 83

Dick Stahl enjoyed a 22-year career at Arizona Highways before retiring as senior editor in 1999. More photos appear at the bottom of this article. | Courtesy of Laura Stahl-Napier

Richard G. "Dick" Stahl, whose distinguished career at Arizona Highways spanned parts of three decades, died May 28. He was 83.

Stahl's first appearance on the Arizona Highways masthead came in the March 1977 issue, as assistant editor. He later was promoted to managing editor, then senior editor — the position he held when he retired in 1999. "The highlight of his life was working for Highways, especially when the editorial staff could still travel on location before doing an issue," says Stahl's daughter, Laura Stahl-Napier.

Arizona Highways Photo Editor Jeff Kida, who began contributing to the magazine around the time Stahl was hired, recalls traveling to Nogales with Stahl and the rest of the staff in advance of the February 1981 issue on the border city. "Dick reveled in that," he says. "He loved research and digging in and peeling back things that weren't so obvious or commonly known."

Bob Early, who retired from Arizona Highways in 2005, was Stahl's last editor at the magazine. "Dick Stahl was a master at improving copy that was submitted to us," he says. "He was a master editor. The readers of our magazine especially benefited from the history stories fact-checked and edited by Dick, a specialist in Arizona history."

The magazine's contributors enjoyed working with Stahl, Early adds, because he was a "top pro" and easy to get along with. "He was a great asset to the magazine," he says.

Kida also recalls Stahl's editing prowess, along with his generosity. "He was very generous with his time and very patient, even on the photo side," he says. "He was good at providing structure, and he really gave me a sense of what was important to the magazine."

A snapshot of Stahl's approach to his work at Arizona Highways appears in The Essential Feature: Writing for Magazines and Newspapers, a book by former Highways employee Millicent V. Hay:

The other day Dick Stahl, my managing editor at Arizona Highways, was grumbling over an article that had been submitted on assignment. When he handed it to me, I thought it seemed competent enough: the language was clear and literate, the facts were well organized, and the writer had covered the subject comprehensively.

"This story looks all right, Dick," I said. "What's wrong with it?"

"It is all right," he returned. "That's what's wrong with it. I don't want a story that's just 'all right.' I want a piece that makes me sit up and shout Wow!"

Stahl-Napier says her father's years since retirement were filled with "projects" and time with his family, which included his wife of 63 years, Gladys, plus his daughter, three grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Stahl did not want a funeral or wake, his daughter says, and his ashes will be dispersed in various locations in the state he loved. He also loved dogs, and Stahl-Napier says those wishing to pay tribute to him can make a donation to the ASPCA in his name.

Wes Holden (front row, center) and Dick Stahl (front row, right) join others on a plane trip. | Courtesy of Laura Stahl-Napier Dick Stahl. | Courtesy of Laura Stahl-Napier Wes Holden (left) and Dick Stahl talk with Georgie White, a legendary Colorado River runner. | Courtesy of Laura Stahl-Napier The Arizona Highways staff meets in the late 1970s or early 1980s. From left to right are Gary Avey, J. Peter Mortimer, Alan Benoit, Gary Bennett, Wes Holden and Dick Stahl. | Courtesy of Laura Stahl-Napier

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Comments

Sounds like an interesting man and many thanks for all the great information he assisted in getting out to the public about Arizona, the place and the inhabitants.

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