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Wicks remembered on anniversary of death

Memorial scholarship raised $200,000 for local students

Posted: August 2, 2009 10:08 p.m.
Updated: August 3, 2009 8:00 a.m.

Randy Wicks joined The Signal as a cartoonist in 1980 after studying at California Institute of the Arts.

Cartoonist Randy Wicks died 13 years ago today, but mention his name to any number of people in the Santa Clarita Valley and it's as if no time has passed.

"I'm just astounded by the Randy Wicks legend," said Tony Newhall, former publisher of The Signal. "His style and contributions to the community have left a mark."

After studying at California Institute of the Arts, Wicks joined The Signal family in 1980, said Newhall, who worked for the paper until 1988.

On Aug. 3, 1996, the bespectacled and mustachioed Wicks died of a heart attack at the age of 41.

"Randy was a hell of a good guy," Newhall said, adding that the artist was also very involved in local charities including the Santa Clarita Valley Boys and Girls Club and Friends of the Library.

"He was always very, very outgoing," he said.

Local writer and historian John Boston said the Iowa-born Wicks became part of the fabric of the paper.

"He was one of the body-and-soul people that really made the newspaper," he said. "He was literally an angel on earth."

Boston recalled walking into The Signal newsroom on that August day in 1996 and sensing "a pallor" over everything. He noticed several people crying, he said.

Someone finally broke the news to him of Wicks' death.

"What a dear friend," Boston said. "He just made the building light."

In the wake of Wicks' death, the Santa Clarita Valley Press Club was formed. Between 1997 and 2008, the annual SCV Newsmaker awards dinner raised roughly $200,000 for the Randy Wicks Memorial Scholarship for local students pursuing First Amendment-related careers.

While many of Wicks' fellow political cartoonists were adept at satire, Boston said, "They didn't have the ability to draw softly and bring a tear to your eye.

"(Wicks) was just the Santa Clarita Valley's gift."


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