Albert Larson “Butch” Alford, Jr. began working at the Lewiston Tribune, the newspaper his grandfather and great-uncle founded, at the age of eleven, progressing from a bicycle mail and ad proof delivery boy to a newsroom gofer. By the time he reached high school, he was a sports and news staff reporter. He graduated from Lewiston High School in 1956 and moved to Eugene to study journalism at the University of Oregon.
At the UO, Alford was in Skull and Dagger, the sophomore men’s service honorary, and also was one of the main publicizers of Student Union activities. He joined Beta Theta Pi, a fraternity focused on sports and scholastic standards, and was a member of the Druids, the junior men’s service honorary. He graduated with a bachelor of science degree in journalism in 1960.
He became a lieutenant in the Armor Corps of the U.S. Army, serving on active duty in 1960 and 1961, before returning to Lewiston as a reporter. He quickly worked his way up the ladder, becoming the paper’s third publisher when his father, A.L. “Bud” Alford, died in 1968.
The Alford family sold 67 percent of the Tribune in 1981 to the Kearns-Tribune Corporation, which also ran The Salt Lake Tribune. When that company was bought by TCI in 1997, Alford feared he would be asked to make newsroom cuts to increase profits, so he recruited private investors and in 1998, bought back the newspaper from Kearns. As part of the sale, TPC Holdings gained control over the Moscow-Pullman Daily News.
Today, the Lewiston Tribune, which will turn 116 this year, has a circulation of 25,000, serving north central Idaho and southeastern Washington. Alford has championed a lively editorial page as part of the paper’s mission—the paper has no editorial board, which Alford has said would be “bureaucratic and cumbersome.” Longtime editorial page editor Bill Hall was known to say “all my guts are in Alford’s body.”
Alford lives his passion for newspapers. He has held key positions in a number of professional organizations, among them the American Society of Newspaper Editors, the American Press Institute, and the Pacific Northwest Newspaper Association. In 1990, the Idaho Newspaper Association named him Master Publisher.
He gives tirelessly of his time to further education. Alford served eight years on the Idaho State Board of Education, the youngest member at the time of his appointment by Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus. He chaired the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Committee on Higher Education Funding. He was the governor’s representative on the Idaho Task Force for Higher Education and chairman of the Governor’s Task Force on Education. He serves on the boards of Washington State University’s Edward R. Murrow College of Communication and the University of Idaho School of Journalism and Mass Media as well as on the UO School of Journalism and Communication’s Journalism Advancement Council. He is also enthusiastically engaged in community affairs.
He has received two honorary doctorates, from the University of Idaho and Lewis-Clark State College, but he says neither increased his IQ.
Alford is a prostate cancer survivor, with successful surgery in 1992, just in time to celebrate his newspaper’s centennial.
He and Nancy, his wife of forty-seven years, have three sons. The youngest, Nathan, is the editor and publisher of the Moscow-Pullman Daily News and became Lewiston Tribune editor and publisher on October 1, when Alford moved into semiretirement.