Longtime Light publisher gets engaged to former Citizen reporter


As they pulled out of their driveway on the way to The Station House Café in June, Dave Mitchell leaned over to Lynn Axelrod, his girlfriend of eight years, and said, “Let’s make this an engagement dinner.” “I was tired of people calling her my wife—better yet, call her my financée,” said Mr. Mitchell, the 73-year-old former owner of the Light whose editorial team won a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service in 1979. Ms. Axelrod, a longtime West Marin resident who once worked for Mr. Mitchell, said they proceeded to have a “very nice” evening and “agreed we would have a long engagement.” “Being older, you sort of want it to last,” said Ms. Axelrod, who is 67. “You find each other at a certain age, and there’s a lot to be said for maturity in terms of handling a relationship.” Exchanging sheepish grins at their cottage above Point Reyes Station last Friday, the couple said they did not yet have a date set for the wedding, but that it would likely take place in West Marin. On the subject of their romance, they said they share an appreciation of the correct use of the comma, the long dash and the hyphen. “We were both lit majors in college,” said Ms. Axelrod, who worked as a reporter for the Light’s now-defunct competitor, The West Marin Citizen. She described how they often read to one another in the evenings. “And, I love his writing. I wish he did more of it,” she said, casting a glance toward Mr. Mitchell, who dropped his gaze to his Cherry Coke. “I think his prose is elegant, by which I mean he uses an economy of words to make a point. It’s just the opposite of overdone.” The pair first met when Ms. Axelrod began working at the Light in 2003, typesetting classifieds. “I used to see him in the office. He was very elegant—graceful—the way he moved around,” she said. They did not interact much at the time, however, because she was downstairs in advertising and he was upstairs in editorial. It wasn’t until after he sold the paper and the Citizen had started up in protest to the new publisher that they serendipitously ran into each other in the Citizen’s office, in 2010. Mr. Mitchell asked her out to listen to jazz in Sausalito—a tradition they still uphold almost every Friday night. Nights out turned into long weekends to Cazadero and Gualala to go canoing and kick back, and so began their longstanding partnership. Mr. Mitchell has had a variety of eye-related illnesses over the past few years, and said Ms. Axelrod “has really helped me through all that.” With four previous marriages under his belt, he added that he is still a “firm believer in the institution of marriage.” Ms. Axelrod has never been married, and neither of them has biological children. “[Marriage] is a way to acknowledge our partnership in a public way,” Ms. Axelrod said. “We know who we are, but it helps define us out in the world.” Longtime Inverness resident Kathy Runnion, who has known the couple for years, said she shared a dinner with them before they became an item and that “They just really hit it off, and I quietly excused myself. The rest is history.”