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Richard Dyer, Publisher of The Tico Times of Costa Rica, Dead at 84

January 30, 1996

SAN JOSE, Costa Rica (AP) _ Richard Dyer, publisher and owner of The Tico Times, Costa Rica’s English-language weekly newspaper, has died. He was 84.

Dyer died of heart failure Sunday at his home in the capital, said John McPhaul, an editor at the newspaper.

``He was well respected in the Costa Rica community for the contribution he made in putting out the newspaper and in championing press freedom,″ McPhaul said.

Dyer worked for The Associated Press in Brazil from 1940 to 1942. He arrived in Costa Rica in 1951, where he first worked as a publicist for the United Fruit Company. His wife, the late Elisabeth Townsend, founded The Tico Times in May 1956 with help from her husband.

The paper suspended publication in 1960 when Dyer and his family moved to Chile. They returned to Costa Rica in 1963, and Dyer restarted the newspaper in 1972, a year after his wife’s death. For years, Dyer ran a printing concern, but he sold it in 1976 to devote himself to the newspaper.

The Tico Times began as a training ground for adventurous, young American journalists and became an indispensable source of English-language news about Costa Rica for foreign residents and tourists.

In recent years, the paper grew to cover much of Central America, gaining thousands of subscribers in 40 countries including the United States.

In 1995, Dyer won the Inter-American Press Association’s Grand Prize for Press Freedom after Costa Rica’s Supreme Court of Justice struck down mandatory licensing of journalists in this nation.

Dyer had waged a long battle against licensing, which sought to make it impossible for anyone who had not graduated from the country’s National University to work as a journalist in Costa Rica.

In 1981, the newspaper won the IAPA’s Pedro G. Beltran Award for distinguished community service. Dyer was a longtime active member of IAPA and was elected to its board of directors for a stint beginning in 1983.

Dyer and his daughter, Dery, also won Columbia University’s Maria Moors Cabot Awards special citation in 1985.

McPhaul said Dyer remained active at the paper until December 1995, running the business side and overseeing advertising. His daughter is editor in chief.

A memorial service is scheduled for Tuesday in San Jose.

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