THE STATE JOURNAL - April 1, 1970
Swift Lathers Succumbs
Colorful Publisher of Weekly Dies
by George Zarry
Hart (UPI) Â– Swift LATHERS, militant publisher of the nationÂ’s smallest weekly newspaper, the Mears Newz, died today in Oceana Hospital in Hart. He was 81 years old.
Death came to the colorful newspaperman in an oxygen tent when he lost his battle against death. He was admitted to the hospital last Friday after incurring a heart attack in downtown Hart while gathering news, a task he had done for 54 years.
Although the Mears Newz was small Â– 5 by 7 inches Â– its "written voice" was heard loudly in 38 states and several foreign countries where LATHERSÂ’ buffs resided, many of them tourists who visited the area during the resort seasons. Others heard about the courageous publisher who was editor, general handyman, printer and reporter.
The publication was printed in color on an old hand-set press.
His clothing was equally brilliant up to the last. LATHERS wore green trousers, a brilliant tie and detachable collars, his trade-mark in earlier years.
"They stopped, looked and listened and I picked up subscriptions," he declared.
Lathers was a graduate of Eastern Michigan College, now known as Eastern Michigan University, at Ypsilanti. He obtained a teacherÂ’s degree which he used to teach his several children, but stuck to the newspaper business as a profession.
His tiny sheet would have one headline only and it always contained the word "ripe" in each issue, such as "Lavender lilacs are ripe in the land of Mears." The news and advertisements were broken up only by punctuation marks.
Lathers would fight for his opinions on various issues, local and national, at the drop of his derby hat. In early years he took up the cause of migrant workers, particularly Mexicans, who toiled in the fruit and vegetable belt in western Michigan. He scored churches which did not encourage them to attend services, and denounced the lack of proper housing conditions by growers.
He built his own miniature town at Mears, which is adjacent to Hart, and called it "Dune Forest."
He had a combination school and church with a bell where he taught his children their lessons and also preached services. Vandals recently destroyed the "town" he built so the "local government wouldnÂ’t get out of hand."
Included in the stock, as the story goes, were a few candy bars, a couple of sacks of Bull Durham and a sign on the front door, "Open Wednesday afternoons to the public, from 2 to 2:15."