Donald N. and Lou Edith “Luda” Soldwedel worked for more than 20 years to enable UA Journalism to provide the best education possible, then left a gift to continue their legacy.
“Their financial help provided amazing opportunities for students and faculty, particularly during the state’s recent lean budgetary years,” said David Cuillier, school director.
After Luda, 90, died in 2016, the couple’s lifetime gifts converted to a $233,000 endowment to benefit the School of Journalism in perpetuity. That gift follows the more than $300,000 that Luda gave to the program after Don died in 2008 at 83. They also established the Soldwedel Family Professorship.
Don was the founder of what today is Western News & Info, which owns the Daily Courier in Prescott and other Arizona newspapers. He had been hiring UA journalism graduates for more than two decades when he learned of the university’s decision in 1994 to recommend that the department be closed. For two years, with Luda’s support, he helped lead the Save Journalism Committee.
After the UA rescinded the closure order, Don founded the school’s Journalism Advisory Council in 1996, served as chair and shaped its fundraising role. He played a pivotal role during construction of the department’s new facilities in the Marshall Building in the early 2000s, convincing university officials to install 100 data ports in computer labs despite the costs.
Donald met Luda in Pekin, Illinois, while working on her father’s newspaper. The two attended UA, where in 1946 Donald received a business degree and Luda earned a Spanish degree.
Their children, Joe Soldwedel and Ann Buxie, continue to support UA journalism. Joe is president and CEO of Western News & Info. Ann, a poet, founded a storytelling center in Malibu, California.
“I learned a lot from my parents about the momentum of generosity and the importance of friendships,” Buxie said. “It was just wonderful to grow up with that.”
– Mike Chesnick, ’84
DON AND "LUDA" SOLDWEDEL
- “The Soldwedel family has been incredible supporters of the program and journalism throughout the state,” said David Cuillier, current director of the UA School of Journalism. “Their financial help provided amazing opportunities for students and faculty, particularly during the state’s recent lean budgetary years.”
- “Don and Luda believed deeply in the crucial role of the news media in a democratic society,” said Jacqueline Sharkey, former director of the school. “They were visionaries who were committed to fostering a cutting-edge education for the next generation of journalists. Their goal was to produce leaders who could provide the critical thinking to enable the profession to confront the many challenges of providing information that would empower the public to make independent decisions.”
- “Luda was an amazing, smart and energetic person,” Cuillier said. “She was an avid news reader and ink was in her blood. Their children, Joe Soldwedel and Ann Buxie, continue to support journalism, and for that family legacy we are grateful.”
- “What can one say about Dad?" Joe and Ann said. "A great father and leader. A superb businessman and diplomat. Boundless energy. Always the optimist. Tremendous drive, resilience and focus.”
- “I learned a lot from them about the momentum of generosity and the importance of friendships,” Buxie said. “It was just wonderful to grow up with that.”
- 2016 Cursor story: Soldwedels' generosity leads to legacy gifts for program
- Don Soldwedel's obit in Tucson Citizen