Portland Sunday Telegram




1, 12A


Full Newspaper Article Attached as PDF.

Guy Patterson Gannett, 27 Nov. 1881 - 24 April 1954

Born in Augusta, son of William H. and Sadie Hill Gannett, Guy P. Gannett continued and expanded the Gannett Publishing Company, with far-reaching results in the newspaper and broadcasting fields, particularly in the state of Maine. As well, Guy’s activism for aviation causes led to statewide and national initiatives. Guy Gannett graduated from Augusta’s Cony High School, then continued at Phillips-Andover Academy, before a short stint at Yale University.

In 1901, Guy joined his father in the publishing business, beginning as treasurer for the monthly Comfort. In 1905, Guy and Anne Macomber, daughter of Augusta banker George E. Macomber, married. Their children were Alice Madeleine and Jean, born in 1910 and 1924 respectively, and adopted son John Howard born in 1919. Anne Gannett and Guy shared an active period in Maine Republican politics, particularly as she campaigned for women’s suffrage in 1920- gaining national recognition- and served as Republican National Committeewoman from Maine. Anne later became a supporter of the Portland Symphony Orchestra, and from 1943 to 1947 was president of the National Federation of Music Clubs.

Guy Gannett was elected to the Augusta Board of Aldermen, and served in the Maine House of Representatives in 1917 - 1918. Not able to participate in the World War I draft, due to his impaired eyesight, he volunteered with the American Red Cross and served in France, particularly in the Vosge Mountains and Argonne Forest campaigns. Gannett was also active in Red Cross fundraising, in Maine- especially in the Augusta area. During his tour of duty, in 1918, Gannett was elected to the Maine State Senate, for 1919 - 1920, and returned from Europe to serve his Senate term. Between 1920 and 1923, Gannett organized in Maine for the Republican National Committee, working with his wife Anne, and supporting the Warren G. Harding presidential candidacy. Gannett’s involvement in politics dissipated as his business commitments and interests intensified.

As W.H. passed the publishing presidency on to his son Guy, the younger Gannett, who had already enjoyed business successes in a trolley company, the Norway and Paris Street Railway, along with investments in developing electric utility companies (particularly Kennebec Light & Heat and the Central Maine Power companies), turned his attention to newspapers. The year 1921, coinciding with a turmoil of contending, struggling newspapers in the city of Portland, saw Guy Gannett’s arrival on the scene, purchasing and merging the Portland Daily Press and the Portland Herald (a.k.a. Eastern Argus). The Portland Daily Press (dating back to 1862) was owned by U.S. Senator Frederick Hale, and the Portland Evening Express-Advertiser was owned by Colonel Frederick Neal Dow. The Daily Eastern Argus (dating back to 1803) had gone out of business in January 1921, but was resurrected as The Portland Herald by a group of city merchants, in reaction to high advertising rates. The Herald approached Guy Gannett about purchasing the merchant-owned fledgling newspaper. After Gannett declined, Senator Hale approached Gannett, offering to sell the struggling Press. Finally after Hale’s arrangement for Gannett’s meeting with the newspaper-owning President Harding, and the Press’s persuasive editor Roy Moore, Guy Gannett entered the arena, buying the Press and the Herald, merging them to create the Portland Press Herald. Subsequently, also in 1921, Gannett purchased the Waterville Sentinel and the Maine Farmer; the Farmer was merged with the Sunday Press Herald.

Initially the Portland Press Herald operated out of the former Portland Press building in Portland’s Monument Square. In October 1923, the new 7-floor Press Herald building, equipped with new printing presses, opened for use, on the city block flanked by Federal, Exchange, and Market Streets. (The building was subsequently expanded, with a 4-floor extension, stretching the building’s initial property out to Congress Street, opposite Portland City Hall, in 1948.) Even before Guy Gannett’s purchase of Col. Dow’s Evening Express and the Sunday Telegram, in 1925, the Press Herald already achieved the largest circulation of any Maine newspaper. In effect, between 1921 and 1925, Guy Gannett merged Portland’s competing newspapers into one, comprising a daily and an evening edition, as well as an expanded Sunday offering. 1929 saw the acquisition of Augusta’s Daily Kennebec Journal. In the following decades, despite the Depression years and the failure of bank holding company Financial Institutions, Inc., in which Gannett was a partner, the newspapers strengthened, adding radio stations (beginning in 1938), under his leadership.

An additional interest, shared by both W.H. and Guy P. Gannett, was the advancement of aviation and commercial air travel. During his father’s lifetime, Guy began applying the airplane (1935) for the purposes of newspaper delivery and aerial photography. As the senior Gannett emphasized the potential for air travel, during the World War II years Guy Gannett campaigned for an increased national support of military aviation. As well, Gannett used his influence in national circles to point out the strategic value of establishing and modernizing Maine bases and airfields.

In the wake of the Pearl Harbor attack, with an enhanced national attention turned to air preparedness, the necessity of organizing airfields- both military and civilian came to the fore. At that time, in 1941, the issue of grounding all civilian aircraft was debated, countered by the idea of creating an organized service for civilian pilots. Guy Gannett, with fellow National Aeronautics Association member Gil Robb Wilson, and fellow publisher Thomas H. Beck, with the support of New York Mayor Fiorello H. LaGuardia, worked together to form the Civil Air Patrol. Gannett, who served as chairman of the Maine Aeronautics Commission and of the Maine Flying Cadet Committee, boosted the C.A.P. in Maine, along with statewide airfield improvements. C.A.P. pilots were volunteers with their own private planes, with chapters in each of the United States. Among their duties were flying coastal patrols and assisting the training of Army pilots.

Along with the Civil Air Patrol, Gannett lent his support to the American Legion in Maine, particularly in Augusta and Portland. Beginning in the city of Augusta, after the merging of the Portland newspapers, the Guy Gannett family moved their residence to the Portland area, having the Gray Rocks home built in Cape Elizabeth in 1927. Guy Gannett died of a heart attack in New York, on a trip to attend a conference of the American Newspaper Publishers Association, at age 72, in 1954. At his passing, Guy’s 30 year-old daughter Jean Gannett (then Williams) became president of Gannett Publishing Company, managing the continually growing business for the next forty years.

(Biography written by Abraham A. Schechter,
Guy Gannett Foundation Collection Archival Guide, 2000)


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