A calling to write a ward Relief Society newsletter eventually led to the Beehive Newspaper—the longest running and largest private Latter-day Saint-focused regional newspaper in the world. Now, the Beehive opens a new chapter, with a new owner and publisher and a renewed focus on spreading “good news” across Arizona.
The idea for the Beehive came in 1975, when Richard and Charlene Taylor were living in the Las Vegas 9th Ward and she was called to produce a Relief Society newsletter.
“The newsletter became an enormous success,” Charlene said. Not only were the sisters eager to read it, they continually sought Charlene out with story ideas or events they wanted her to report.
Richard said they saw the need and thought, “Why not start a newspaper in the Las Vegas area for the fast-growing Mormon population? A newspaper for and about Latter-day Saints. A newspaper that would let every reader know about upcoming events and the good deeds being performed by Church members in the Las Vegas Valley.”
With four children in junior high and high school and as owners of the second largest burglar alarm company in Las Vegas, the Taylors had very little spare time to run a publication. Still, they recognized the value of an uplifting, positive, “good news” newspaper.
After much thought and prayer, and after preparing a four-page mockup that they showed to the stake presidents in the area to gauge their support, the Taylors printed their first copy of the Beehive, an 8-page black and white publication, with no paid advertisements. Under the basic Beehive logo were the words, “The Good News Newspaper,” a caption that remained on the masthead for over 25 years.
The Taylors loved watching the paper grow, working with the help of their oldest daughter, Tamara, to publish the evolving paper.
“I loved writing stories, taking pictures and talking with Church members,” Charlene said. “We even got to interview apostles and attend and report from General Conference meetings in Salt Lake. But the best part of all was when we would get a phone call or a letter telling us that someone had had their testimony strengthened by something they read in the Beehive.”
In 1990, when fibromyalgia made it impossible for Charlene to continue with the many hours required to produce the Beehive, their oldest son, Russell, offered to keep the legacy going. Having just returned to Las Vegas after completing an MBA at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Russell moved immediately to increase the scope of the paper’s news coverage and distribution, and to expand its sales force, bringing on Linda Leavitt (now Hartmann) who was working in Las Vegas at the time.
Three years later, when Linda felt she needed to move back to Arizona, she proposed the idea to Russell of starting an Arizona Beehive. With 300,000 members then in Arizona, it didn’t take long for Russell to see the possibility for success.
Russell noted, “The sole reason there is a Beehive newspaper in Arizona is because of Linda Leavitt Hartmann. She is a special person, who was able to make an LDS newspaper work in a state that had seen at least four other newspapers fail.”
Since the first edition in October 1993, the Arizona Beehive has seen many changes. Marsha Ward, who served as the paper’s editor for the first five years, was relieved of her duties in the late 1990s to care for her husband who was battling terminal cancer. Cecily Markland (now Condie), a seasoned reporter and editor, assumed the duties as the Beehive editor and continued in that capacity for over 20 years, writing a number of articles and a column for each issue, and overseeing 10 freelance contributors to the Beehive.
Because of health issues, Linda Hartmann left the Beehive in 2014 and Cecily, who remarried in 2015, stepped down as editor at that time.
Russell had sold the Nevada Beehive in 2002 to concentrate his efforts on the Arizona Beehive and to share more family time with his new wife, Amie. The next year, he turned his attention to his career in commercial and residential real estate and Amie took over the responsibilities for the Beehive. Amie, who is originally from Myanmar (formerly Burma), is a 1997 graduate of Claremont McKenna College and is a convert to the Church. She was baptized by her husband in 2003.
Over the years, in addition to highlighting countless acts of service and individual accomplishments, the Beehive has chronicled the growth of the Church in Arizona, including stories about the announcement, construction and dedication of temples in Snowflake, the Gila Valley, Phoenix, Gilbert and Tucson and the upcoming remodel of the Mesa Temple, as well as the formation of six Young Single Adult Stakes, and new Institute buildings in Glendale, on the ASU campus in Tempe, and on the ASU Polytechnic Campus in Mesa.
The Beehive has published a number of articles about projects conducted as part of Make a Difference Day and Just Serve efforts, as well as missionary experiences and conversion stories, and a story about two new missions that opened in Arizona.
“The greatest reward serving as publisher of the Beehive was publishing positive, uplifting stories when there is so much negativity in all forms of media,” Russell said. “I am very proud that Amie and I carried on my father’s wishes for an uplifting newspaper for so many years.”
Now, with Michael O’Brien assuming ownership and leadership of the Beehive, Russell added, “Amie and I are very excited to see what becomes of the Beehive. Michael has a wealth of experience and knowledge in the publishing industry, but more importantly, has the drive to take the Beehive to the next level and expand its reach to more LDS members and non-members, publishing ‘good news’ in a world of divisiveness and negativity. We hope my father and mother’s Beehive legacy will continue for many more decades.”