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A Note about Dennis DeVaux and Upper Valley Press

Dennis DeVaux at the 2012 New Hampshire State Trapshooting Championship Tournament. Photo by Steve Szczechura.
Editor’s note: The authors remember and honor Dennis A. DeVaux of Upper Valley Press, who died in a roadside accident on Jan. 6 at the age of 65. Beginning with the first issue of The Bridge in December 1993 — and for most of the 20-plus years that have followed — Upper Valley Press in North Haverhill (NH) printed The Bridge.

In his capacity as one of Upper Valley Press’s chief executives with continuing responsibilities in customer relations, Dennis DeVaux was a key figure who supported The Bridge from the early days of the paper in the mid-1990s and for many years thereafter.

Dennis believed in the mission of The Bridge — to bring quality news to a local community — and he made every effort, on multiple occasions, to be sure that the end product of writing and printing the paper was of high quality and delivered on time.

Dennis began his employment with Upper Valley Press in an entry level position in 1980, and was, until his retirement about a year-and-a-half ago, one of the company’s vice presidents.

In his personal life, Dennis had a passion for the outdoors that included hiking, snowshoeing, bird watching, hunting and fishing, and competitive shooting. Both of his parents were accomplished trapshooters, and at 13 years of age Dennis himself began trapshooting. Over time Dennis became a trapshooting standout.

In August 2002, Dennis competed in the Grand American (trapshooting) Handicap in Vandalia, Ohio. At the Vandalia event, Dennis beat out more than 3,800 other shotgunners from across the United States by winning “the most coveted title of the 10-day tournament,” according to a report in the Times Argus. Dennis Jensen writing for the Times Argus used these words to describe Dennis’s stunning trapshooting achievement: “You could say that Dennis DeVaux was in two places on that special day. The Thetford trapshooter was in Vandalia, Ohio, trying to become the top gun in the Grand American Handicap at the Grand American World Trapshooting Championships. (He) was also in a zone on that day in August, a zone so perfect that (from a distance of 27 yards) he hit 150 out of 150 targets, a feat that has never been accomplished in more than 100 years of competition.”

Dennis himself reacted this way to his championship performance: “It was the best moment of my life in my career in trapshooting. I was ecstatic. It’s akin to winning a gold medal at the Olympics in a major event.”

Some of that striving for personal excellence no doubt characterized Dennis’s work performance at Upper Valley Press.

In the early days of The Bridge, we would create “dummies” — or print prototypes of the paper — and take those dummies that showed the exact size of the paper (its pages, its columns of print, and space for photographs) down to Upper Valley Press in North Haverhill, New Hampshire. Typically, we would arrive in the morning — tired out after a late night in finalizing the paper’s layout and design. Sometimes Dennis would personally welcome us. Then he would let us settle down in a quiet conference room to take a last look at things and make corrections. He and his team accommodated our many final changes as they readied our paper to go to press. Their message to us was that it mattered and that they cared.

From our perspective — and we were just one of Upper Valley’s many customers — it was Dennis’s commitment to excellence and his timely and generous professional support of our fledgling community paper that made an indispensable difference and that’s one of the strongest reasons why The Bridge is still publishing today.

For several years after The Bridge  was first published, Jake Brown and Nat Frothingham were business partners at The Bridge, Jake as managing editor and Nat as publisher.