Will Townsley was born in Great Bend in 1888, and got an early start in the newspaper business working for his father, who established the Great Bend Tribune in 1876. He attended Washburn College in Topeka, during which time he had a State Journal paper route for three years.
In 1907, Townsley returned to Great Bend to take over as publisher of the Tribune. Thanks to the purchase of a linotype, the Tribune became a daily the following year and absorbed three other local papers: the Register, the Rustler, and the Item.
In the “History of Kansas Newspapers,” published by the Kansas State Historical Society in 1916, the resume of Will Townsley said in part: “He has been gradually enlarging and improving the Tribune until it is one of the best small-town dailies in the West. It has been Republican in politics, and thinks more of the short local than of the long editorial.”
Townsley was only 53 years old when his death came unexpectedly in 1935. One tribute read, “He had a kind word for everyone. He abhorred hypocrisy and always cautioned against hatred.”