Claudia Smith-Hill, 97

Claudia Smith-Hill, former editor of the weekly Willits News in Mendocino County, died Dec. 19, 2018, the newspaper reported. She was 97.

Claudia started at the newspaper as a clerk and social editor. Later, she and husband Richard Hill, along with four other families, acquired the newspaper in 1973 and ran it for 24 years.

“I learned a lot from Claudia, as someone to look up to,” said Debbie Clark, who started with the paper in 1982 and later served as publisher and advertising director.

“The newspaper was the heartbeat of the community to keep people informed, and nothing was too small. She exemplified and lived by her standards. That was probably one of the most important things to live by every day, because if you can’t do that, how can you be a trusted news source?”