Ron Lytle

Nov 16, 2017 By Steven R. Peck, Publisher

If someone called The Ranger office in the vicinity of 1968 there was a possibility that the young man answering the phone would greet the caller by saying "Peace!"

That man was Ron Lytle. He worked in Ranger advertising for a time as a young man in his 20s, then was given the chance by publishers Bob and Roy Peck to run his own newspapers, first in Powell, then in Lovell, then in Hardin, Montana.

He was the first man on the Ranger staff who made the way the paper looked a top priority. There have been many schools of thought about advertising layout, page design and graphic elements through the decades, and Ron knew about them all. The clean look of Ranger ads and, to an extent, news pages, during the time he was here is most evident by how the pages changed again after he was gone. The difference is notable.

He was a gregarious man, a great guy to talk to for a couple of hours on a long car ride, a good listener and a man of genuine concern for others. These qualities led, after a while, to his decision to leave the newspaper life and enter the Episcopal ministry. He ministered congregations, counseled congregants and looked after churches in the Big Horn Basin, Wisconsin, Montana and back in Wyoming for many years after his days as a full-time newspaperman.

But he never left it completely. He remained a friend to the publishers and papers in the Ranger's family newspaper group, occasionally stepping in to lend a hand. When local people in the Ranger's publishing family bought the Dubois Frontier when that weekly was in trouble, Ranger publisher Bob Peck called Ron Lytle with a request: Could you drop everything, come back to Fremont County for a month, help us hire some staff, and spend some time in Dubois getting the paper back on its feet?

He arrived the next day. The Frontier got off to a good restart and has remained one of Wyoming's best small weekly papers in the 20-plus years since. A lot of that is because of that month in Dubois by Ron Lytle.

When Bob Peck died 10 years ago at age 82, we asked Ron to speak at his funeral at the Central Wyoming College Arts Center that had been renamed for the publisher. Ron's remarks that breezy March afternoon showed him at his best - welcoming, friendly, conversational, funny, observant and comforting.

The man who answered the phone with "Peace!" as a twenty-something died last week in Powell. He was 82, a Navy veteran, a man of faith with a nice family, two good careers, many friends and the excellent legacy all those things can build.

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