The Utah Press Association honored Dennis and Dixie Brunner with its coveted Master Editor and Publisher Award at the association’s annual convention held March 5-7 in St. George. The highest award that can be presented to a state newspaper, the Master Editor and Publisher award celebrates a newspaper for exemplary work to its community. 

“It’s quite an honor and Dixie and I are humbled that we were chosen for this prestigious award,” said publisher Dennis Brunner. “I love working with Dixie. She is a dynamic writer and deserves the accolades. It’s not easy being a small town newspaper editor. She has tackled many tough issues over the years, and I am very proud of her.  I am extremely fortunate to get to work with my best friend and partner every day.”

The Brunners bought the Southern Utah News in 1992 from Marlin and Delores Brown. They moved to Kanab with their four sons from Stoughton, Wisconsin, where Dixie had worked as a humor, feature and travel writer, and Dennis was a partner in a wholesale lumber company. A son’s illness precipitated the move to a drier climate.

“We felt like fish out of water at first,” commented Dixie Brunner of the move west. “We were used to having a lot of family and friends around, and from a news standpoint, the political climate was much different from what we were accustomed. But the community welcomed us, and our sons did well here.”

“We were both on a learning curve concerning running a newspaper,” said Dixie. “But we were blessed with help from my former paper, the Stoughton Courier Hub, as well as Marlin and his son Matt, who was editor at the time. I always give Dennis the most credit for what we’ve done with the newspaper. He had to learn an entirely new career! However, there were many nights of tears, when we would look at each other and say, ‘what on earth are we doing here?’”

The SUN has won many awards throughout the years, and thrived as the area’s community newspaper. Covering topics as diverse as roads and grazing, to zoning, growth, and ‘Natural Families,’ there’s rarely been a dull moment for the Brunners. 

They’ve been fortunate to have great employees, both past and present. Dixie’s mom Ruthie worked at the paper until she passed away in 1997. Kanab resident Sharlotte Brewer has been with the SUN for 18 years, with Hilda Crutchfield joining the crew in 2008. Larry Sorenson rounds out the office staff with his printing and computer expertise. The SUN is also fortunate to have Jeff Frey, Carol Sullivan, Tracy Hiscock, Mary Ellen Craven, Myrna Cox and Susana Young as writing contributors.