William Harry Green, 98, dies in San Diego

Tue, January 27, 2004 by Mark Kroeger

SAN DIEGO - Retired California newspaper executive William Harry Green, whose distinguished career made him well-known in publishing circles across the country for more than 50 years, died Monday of heart failure in San Diego. He was 98.During his more-than-50-year career in publishing, he served several newspapers in Ventura County, Calif., and later was promoted to head the John P. Scripps Newspaper organization, which included the Ventura County papers. The West Coast organization was headquartered in San Diego until it merged with The E. W. Scripps Company in 1986. Green also was active in the community, co-founding chapters of the Rest and Aspiration Society in the cities of Ventura and San Diego. Today the social club's San Diego society includes more than 300 active business leaders.Green was born to a Phoenix ranching family in 1906, during the twilight of the Wild West era when Arizona was only a United States Territory (it was granted statehood in 1912). Because of his ranching background, Green became strong and self-reliant. In 1924, he and lifelong-pal Milton Coggins, who later enjoyed a remarkable career as a world-renowned golf course architect, climbed aboard the Model T Ford jalopy they owned together and traveled from Phoenix to the University of Redlands in Redlands, Calif. They passed the famous plank road across the California desert despite many mechanical difficulties. Near the end of the journey, the aging vehicle's low-gear transmission band burned-out during the lengthy grind up the steep "Grapevine" grade. Green took the transmission apart, removed the belt from his trousers, and adapted it to replace the burned-out band, making the car fully-functional again. "As a result, I arrived at the campus with a piece of rope holding my pants up instead of a belt," he chuckled in later years. Following his graduation from Redlands in 1928, Green and a partner launched a small newspaper called the Weekly Review in Santa Paula in Ventura County. ("Actually, it should have been spelled "Weakly" instead of "Weekly", Green reminisced good-humoredly in later years, alluding to the paper's fragile financial underpinnings.) In 1933, the venture failed, but Green's business acumen had not gone unnoticed by his staunchest competitor, the nearby Santa Paula Daily Chronicle, a member publication of the West Coast John P. Scripps Newspapers organization. The Chronicle's publisher invited Green to join the Scripps organization as an advertising salesman. Green accepted the invitation and promptly demonstrated his prodigious energy and ability as a businessman by designing and marketing a special advertising section on his own that set a profit-record at the Chronicle.A year later, he was promoted to circulation manager at the organization's nearby -- and flagship -- publication: the daily Ventura County Star. Soon Green was named advertising manager as well, managing both departments at once. A few months later, he was appointed business manager of the newspaper. He was responsible for all departments in the newspaper except the editorial department.Through his years working in Ventura, Green was also active in community service. When World War II broke out, he was tapped by the government to serve as head of the region's Selective Service Board. He also served terms as president of the Ventura Chamber of Commerce and the local Kiwanis Club. Green decided it was vital that civil, business and military leaders become better acquainted, so he co-founded the Ventura County Rest and Aspiration Society, featuring monthly social gatherings in which business and community perspectives could be exchanged and useful personal contacts established. That concept was an instant success, and later reprised in San Diego after Green was relocated there in 1945 to accept another promotion -- to head the entire John P. Scripps newspaper chain, as general business manager. During the more-than two decades that Green held this important position, the company grew substantially, and added newspaper ventures in the California communities of Tulare, Thousand Oaks and Simi.Throughout those years, Green was an active member of both the American Newspaper Publisher's Association and the California Newspaper Publishers Association. He was named president of the latter organization in 1963. He also served as President of the Ad Sales Club of San Diego and was a member of the San Diego Chapter of Sigma Delta Chi.In 1968, Green semi-retired, handing over the duties of general business manager to his longtime associate, Peter R. LaDow. During the decades that followed, he served as a vice president and member of the John P. Scripps Newspaper Group board of directors until that entity merged with The E. W. Scripps Company in Cincinnati in 1986. Following the merger, Green shared an office with Paul K. Scripps, a Scripps newspaper executive and board member, until Scripps retired in 2001.Green was married to Mercedes Reussenzehn of Dayton, Ohio, until her death in 1989; during their marriage daughter Floradel was born in Ventura. In 1996, he married Shandon Mullen, widow of prominent San Diego dentist and longtime friend Dr. Joseph Mullen; Shandon died in 2002. He is survived by his daughter Floradel and son-in-law William Reid of Pine Bluff, Ark.; granddaughters Pamela, Catherine and Susan; and four great-grandchildren as well as five stepsons and stepdaughters.“Harry was a distinguished leader in the newspaper industry, a public-spirited and widely-loved member of every community in which he lived, and a deeply cherished friend to three generations of (the Scripps) family," Paul K. Scripps said. "He will be profoundly missed by all whose lives he touched."

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