Frank Ducceschi, longtime editor and publisher of the Peninsula Daily News who had major impacts on the newspaper and the North Olympic Peninsula, died last Friday. He was 77.
Ducceschi died at Virginia Mason Medical Center in Seattle from kidney and cardiac complications. His health had been in decline in recent months.
“He was vitally interested in the welfare of the North Olympic Peninsula and its residents and involved the newspaper and himself in numerous ways to help make local life better,” said John Brewer, who succeeded Ducceschi as publisher from 1998 to 2015.
“In his 25 years at the newspaper, Frank significantly increased local news coverage, including the creation of an ‘all local’ news front page; expanded the newspaper’s coverage area to include all of Clallam and Jefferson counties and dramatically increased the newspaper’s public service endeavors,” Brewer said.
“A big, very personable guy, a principled, decisive newsman, one of his bywords was accessibility. Frank was always accessible to people — readers, advertisers, employees — about their concerns and ideas.”
Ducceschi started as managing editor in 1973 when he was 29. He was soon promoted to the chief newsroom job of executive editor and, in 1981, he became publisher, the newspaper’s CEO position. After 17 years as publisher, he retired in 1998.
When Ducceschi began, the newspaper was known as The Daily News, its name since 1972. It was founded as the Port Angeles Evening News in 1916.
It was renamed the Peninsula Daily News in 1987. Shortly thereafter, the new PDN joined many other afternoon newspapers nationwide that had changed their delivery to mornings in the wake of the rise of TV news and changing work patterns.
Ducceschi accompanied the change with a redesigned, modern look to the newspaper, added new local columnists and a new computer system; boosted news coverage in Forks/West End and Port Townsend areas and added space for more readers’ letters.
Building on the newspaper’s long history of raising money for the less fortunate, Ducceschi partnered with Olympic Community Action Programs in 1989 to create the Peninsula Home Fund. PDN readers contributed $300,932 to the “hand up, not a handout” Home Fund in 2020.
Through newspaper sponsorships, Ducceschi also played a key role in the start-up of the Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts, the establishment of the Clallam County Community Service Awards, the creation of the city Resolve to Recycle program, the revival of Tidepools, the literary magazine at Peninsula College, and he encouraged youth reading with the “Begin with Books” program.
He also worked with the Clallam County Economic Development Council, Clallam County Historical Society, Clallam County United Way and the Port Angeles Symphony.
He served on the Peninsula College Board of Trustees for seven years. He also served as statewide president of the Washington Associated Press News Executives.
He oversaw coverage of many major local news stories. They included the 1976-1983 Northern Tier oil port controversy, the collapse of the Hood Canal Bridge in 1979; the Boldt fishing decision and its impacts; the arrest in Port Angeles of Russian spy Christopher Boyce in 1981; the massive Port Angeles Harbor oil spill in 1985; and the spotted owl “timber wars” of the 1990s.
Ducceschi was born in Gary, Ind., and was a 1967 graduate of Arizona State University. He began his career as editor of a weekly paper in Sheridan, Ore. He worked at the Grants Pass., Ore., Daily Courier and the Nixon Newspapers in Wabash., Ind., before coming to Port Angeles.
After his retirement, he worked for several years with his daughter Erin and son-in-law Michael Cyger as the editor of an Internet website based around the business improvement program Six Sigma and its techniques and tools. It had an online readership of more than 600,000. There was also a spinoff print magazine with 14,000 subscribers.
Ducceschi is survived by his wife, Joan, his college sweetheart who he married in 1966. They lived in a condo overlooking Eagle Harbor on Bainbridge Island and enjoyed traveling. Ducceschi served on the condo association’s board for many years.
He is also survived by his daughter Erin Cyger of Bainbridge Island; daughter Laurel Daniel of Bainbridge Island and Queenstown, New Zealand; nephew Keith Curtis of Port Angeles and five grandchildren.
Services are pending.