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Former Beaver Dam Daily Citizen owner James Conley Jr. dies
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Former Beaver Dam Daily Citizen owner James Conley Jr. dies

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A former owner of the Daily Citizen, James Conley Jr., has died.

Conley died at his home in Aiken, South Carolina, at the age of 76, according to an obituary from

He will be remembered through his media legacy of weekly and daily newspapers, shoppers, city magazines, trade publications and extensive art collections. He began his career in newspapers in 1967 at the Wall Street Journal. In 1969 he and business partner, Francis “Bill” Connors, purchased the Beaver Dam Daily Citizen.

During his time in Beaver Dam he married Nancy Parker, whose family had been operating the paper since it was founded in 1911. During his ownership the enterprise expanded to include several weekly newspapers, and established a printing division which continues to operate under new ownership.

Conley eventually focused his attentions on places farther afield. Following the purchase of the Waukesha Freeman, The West Bend Daily News, Oconomowoc Enterprise, Ozaukee County News Graphic and others, he started two city magazines, Tucson Lifestyle in 1983 and MKE Lifestyle in 1993. In 1990, he began publishing a trade magazine for the media industry, News and Tech.

The Daily Citizen was sold to Capital Newspapers on April 1, 2001, for an undisclosed amount.

According to Conley’s obituary, “Through his many endeavors he continued to be an active, persistent voice in the necessity for accurate and unbiased reporting to the American public.”

“Jim Conley’s legacy in Dodge County lives on – in part – through the Daily Citizen,” said Capital Newspapers Regional Editor Aaron Holbrook. “He was a pioneer in the use of technology to produce and deliver news, but also made sure the staff understood newspapers are about serving the community.”

“I enjoyed working for Jim as a reporter and editor at the start of my career with the Daily Citizen. There are journalists throughout Wisconsin and beyond who benefited from the opportunities he provided at his newspapers and magazines.”

Jim and Nancy Conley had four children who were educated in Beaver Dam public schools and at Wayland Academy, before pursuing higher educations and careers across the country. They include son James Conley III (Margie), Christopher Conley (Wendy) and Brooke Conley (Michael Levien). Jim was preceded in death by son Patrick Parker Conley in 1997.

Conley is survived by his wife Rhonda R. Smith and their son Brandt James Conley, as well as siblings Emily (William) Keelty, Robert (Lisa) Conley, Bruce (Karla) Conley, Ellen (Gerald Gensch) Conley, Katherine Brandt Conley. Five grandchildren and numerous nieces, nephews and cousins also survive.

He was a founding member of the Beaver Dam Scholarship Foundation, an organization that awards scholarship funds to students to help attend a four-year college or technical college of their choice. He supported Beaver Dam’s Clothes For Kids, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to helping children in need.

A memorial celebration of Jim’s life is planned for the late summer of 2020 in Milwaukee.

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