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Brent Low has watched Conway in a variety of male-run, hardball meetings involving The Tribune’s chief competitor, the LDS Church-owned Deseret News, and executives from MediaOne of Utah, the company run by both dailies under a joint operating agreement.
"She is graceful, firm and deeply committed to doing the right thing," said Low, MediaOne’s CEO and president.
A Utah friend described Conway as warm, smart and generous, with a wonderful New England sense of humor.
"Nancy is a fierce advocate for The Tribune’s writers, reporters and the rest of the staff, and has been personally devastated by recent personnel cuts,’’ said Cynthia Buckingham, executive director of the Utah Humanities Council.
Conway developed a profound love for Salt Lake City’s orderliness, its family focus and civility, its arts community and, in particular, its stunning scenery.
"You can almost reach out and touch the mountains,’’ she said, throwing a glance out the window of her seventh-floor office toward the Wasatch Range. "To an Eastern gal, that is really breathtaking.’’
Bay State beginnings » Born in 1942, Conway grew up in Foxborough, Mass., about 22 miles southwest of Boston. The second of five children, she remembers being surrounded and nurtured by her large, clannish, blue-collar, predominantly Irish family.
Her parents had grade-school educations. Hampered by poor health, Conway’s father worked as a janitor, parking lot attendant and night watchman. Her mother was a kitchen worker at a school and the state hospital.
Conway began working at age 9, helping her mother clean houses. "I cleaned the toilets,’’ Conway said, laughing. "Talk about humble beginnings."
While cherishing what she calls her "hardscrabble" upbringing, Conway said it also has driven her throughout her life. "I saw that other people lived differently from that, and I aspired to live differently," she said. "I’ve always been self-motivated.’’
Conway’s life was transformed at 21, she said, when she volunteered for the Peace Corps, only two years after President John F. Kennedy created it. Deployed as a medical worker in Rio de Janeiro with 20 other women, her eyes opened to the world’s possibilities.
"It made me crave education,’’ she said. "It made me know how much I didn’t know and how much I wanted to know."
She extended her Peace Corps service, returning stateside in 1968 to pursue an English degree at the University of Massachusetts, with a certificate to teach English, Portuguese and social studies.
She would reprise her international travels 40 years later, when she was chosen by the International Reporting Project at Johns Hopkins University to visit Uganda to study the African country’s health and environmental issues, as well as the effects of a decades-long civil war.
Conway started her newspaper career in 1976 as office manager and calendar editor for the Daily Hampshire Gazette in Northampton, Mass., after ending her marriage to a minister in the Congregational United Church of Christ. She has two grown daughters.
Singleton and Conway met in 1978, when they worked at The Amherst Record in Amherst, Mass. — she in the newsroom, he as a 27-year-old newspaper executive.
"He looked like a kid," Conway said.
Through the decades, she has kept a fierce allegiance to Singleton. "That is her first loyalty,’’ said Editor Orme. "She is completely and totally loyal to him."
After newspaper stints in Holyoke, Mass., and Florida, Conway became the first female editor and publisher of the York Dispatch in York, Pa. She worked briefly as metro editor at The Denver Post before accepting a job in California as executive editor of the Alameda Newspaper Group, made up of five Bay Area papers including the flagship Oakland Tribune. ANG newspapers laid off 49 workers from a staff of about 230 just before Conway’s departure for Utah.
She said at the time she joined The Salt Lake Tribune that she "hoped" those types of staff cuts wouldn’t happen in Utah.Next Page >
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