Dakota Datebook

William C. Marcil

Monday, November 17, 2008

 

Following the sudden death of Norman D. Black in 1969, the Fargo Forum, founded on this day in 1891, had no clear choice for its new publisher. For the first time since Norman Black’s grandfather had purchased the Fargo Forum in 1917, there was no new member of the Black family clan to lead the newspaper, so the family adopted one.

William C. Marcil was born in Rolette, North Dakota in 1936. After graduating from Sherwood High School, Bill Marcil attended the University of North Dakota, earning a business administration degree in 1958. Following service in the US Army, Marcil was hired as the office manager for an industrial finance company in Robbinsdale Minnesota, where he met a pretty young secretary named Jane Black. They were married in 1960. A short while later Marcil was asked by his father-in-law, Norman D. Black, to join the family business. Bill had good job prospects in Minnesota and was reluctant to leave them to work for his father-in-law. In the end, Norman Black made Marcil an ‘offer he couldn’t refuse,’ and Bill was named the Fargo Forum’s retail advertising salesman in 1961.

Marcil spent the next eight years working up the corporate ladder. By 1969 he was publisher of the Fargo Forum. Marcil’s quick rise to the top stunned even the corporate star himself, who retorted that when he was offered the position his “first thought was, I’m just a punk kid, and all of a sudden I’ve got a pretty big job.”

Over the years, Bill’s job has only gotten bigger, and his term at the Forum has been marked by rapid expansion. The Forum Publishing Company Marcil inherited in 1969 has evolved into a new entity, the Forum Communications Company, with news organizations spread across four states. Marcil has overseen that acquisition of TV and radio stations, additional newspapers across the Midwest, and has expanded news coverage available on the World Wide Web.

Bill Marcil’s skills as a leader have been recognized in more than just the Forum’s boardroom. Marcil has directed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Newspaper Publisher’s Association. He has directed educational boards and served as chairman of the Greater North Dakota Association and its Vision 2000.

William “Bill” Marcil may have started his publishing career as an adopted son of a prestigious North Dakota publishing family, but his stunning success at the Forum and his work expanding North Dakota’s economic future has given his own family’s name a pedigree of its own.
Sources:
“History”, Forum Communications Co. http://www.forumcomm.com/history/ (accessed November 10, 2008).
Holzinger, Albert G., “Thriving on Challenges – William C. Marcill of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce”, CBS Interactive Inc. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1154/is_n4_v82/ai_14977628/pg_2?tag=artBody;col1 (accessed November 10, 2008).
“Marcil Keeps Forum a Family-Owned Paper”, Forum Communications Co. http://www.in-forum.com/specials/125th/index.cfm?page=articles2&id=41080&subsection=People (accessed November 10, 2008).
“William C. Marcil”, Office of the Governor of North Dakota http://www.governor.state.nd.us/awards/rr-gallery/marcil.html (accessed November 10, 2008).

This text and audio may not be copied without securing prior permission from Prairie Public.

Dakota Datebook is a project of Prairie Public, in partnership with the State Historical Society of North Dakota, with funding from the North Dakota Humanities Council.

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