Bill Taylor, ex-Boston Globe publisher, dead at 78

AP News
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Posted: May 02, 2011 7:45 PM
Bill Taylor, ex-Boston Globe publisher, dead at 78

Former Boston Globe publisher Bill Taylor II, who was the fourth in his family to serve as the newspaper's publisher and then negotiated its historic sale to The New York Times Co., has died, the company announced Monday.

Taylor, 78, died Sunday at his Boston home, the Times Co. said. He had been battling a brain tumor since 2009, and the cause of his death was brain cancer, it said.

Taylor, who joined the Globe in the 1960s as a production assistant, served as publisher for 19 years. He succeeded his father, grandfather and great-grandfather in that role.

A Harvard College graduate, Taylor served two years in the Army and was stationed as a sergeant in West Germany. According to the Globe, Taylor said while in Germany his father and grandfather sent letters encouraging him to join the family business.

"I was devoted to my grandfather," Taylor once said in a Globe interview.

Upon returning, Taylor held a number of jobs at the newspaper, including reporter and positions in classified advertising and promotion, before becoming publisher. He oversaw the newspaper as it won nine Pulitzer Prizes.

Bob Giles, curator at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, said Taylor continued the legacy of strong journalism set by the Taylor family over five generations.

"The paper continued to improve under his leadership," Giles said.

The Boston Globe's current publisher, Christopher Mayer, said Taylor was committed to quality journalism and being a good corporate citizen.

"When someone mentions the name Bill Taylor, I think of the Globe, and vice versa," Mayer said. "I'm certain I speak for all employees when I say that Bill will be missed and that we strive every day to continue his legacy."

In 1993, Taylor helped negotiate a $1.1 billion sale of the Globe to the Times Co. At the time, the Globe trusts were controlled by the Taylor family and by the descendants of Eben Jordan, one of six Boston businessmen who invested a total of $150,000 to launch the Globe in 1872.

It was the largest sale in newspaper history and ended family control at one of the last major independent newspapers in the nation.

Taylor stepped down as publisher four years later.

The Globe's editor at the time of the sale, Matt Storin, said Taylor never interfered in the newsroom while he was publisher.

"He was as good a publisher as an editor could ever imagine having," Storin said. "He gave you the financial support, the emotional support and let you do your job, and then stood as a buffer against the community when people called to complain."

After retiring, Giles said, Taylor remained civically engaged and helped create the Taylor Family Award for Fairness in Newspapers. He raised $450,000 to endow an annual prize of $10,000.

The publisher of The New York Times, Arthur Sulzberger Jr., said Taylor positioned the Globe to become "a beacon of integrity in the world of journalism" and will be remembered as a "forward-looking" leader.

"The legacy he leaves behind will continue to serve the Globe long into the future," Sulzberger said in a statement.

Times Co. CEO Janet Robinson called Taylor a friend and "consummate gentleman" who guided the Globe through its historic transition.

"He will long be remembered for his humility and gentility and admired for his brilliant stewardship of the Globe," Robinson said.

Taylor is survived by his wife, Sally; a sister, Anna Taylor Caleb, of Rutland, Vt.; three sons, William Davis Taylor, of Wellesley, Edmund Coxe Taylor, of San Francisco, and Augustus Rumrill Taylor, of Maui, Hawaii, and four grandchildren.

The family will hold a private funeral and will announce a public memorial service.