George R. Sample: Remembering one of the greats

George R. Sample Jr. never worked with NBCs Tim Russert, but the two journalists who died within days of each other will be forever linked in the eyes of many. Russert, NBCs Washington bureau chief and moderator of Meet the Press died June 13. Sample, a community journalist, with a career that spanned seven decades, died June 18 in Corry, Pa., at age 84, of cardiac arrest. Sample always prided himself on being a part of the daily newspaper operations at the Corry (Pa.) Journal. He had such a love affair and passion for journalism that he often commented he came to work every day and sat in the same chair for 62 years, and never worked a day in his life. His influence was also felt through newsrooms around the country having served as the vice chairman of American Publishing Co., where he worked with both large and small publications like the Chicago Sun Times and the Jerusalem Post to the Kane Record and Wellsville Daily Reporter. Sample's son, George, Scoop Sample III, publisher of the Huntington, Pa. Daily News, said his father wanted most of all to be remembered as journalist. But his legacy is greater than words, the younger Sample said. He was loved by many. He considered himself a teacher and there were more newspaper editors and publishers that came from his mentoring, than any other small town in Americathanks to him. A son couldn't be more proud of his father. For him, the son of a tanner, an accidental college graduate, he achieved greatness in family, work and life, he said. While it is a sad time, it was a great ride and he took many of us along, building the finest newspaper family in the country. Sample is credited for launching, reviving, and sustaining many careers in the newspaper field. He had a unique ability to help people develop their skills and instill a passion for the profession that, for him, never dwindled despite a series of several strokes over the past few years, noted one his understudies, Denton Publications\New Market Press owner Dan Alexander. The two Samples, and Alexander, purchased Denton Publications in Elizabethtown, N.Y., from the Denton family in August 1988. Sample was scheduled to return to the North Country this August to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their first acquisition and the 60th anniversary of Denton Publications. I was stocking shelves in a shoe store when I first met George Sample in 1975, Alexander said. He must have seen some hidden talents in me as I continued with my career in retail and organizational management. We worked together on several community organizations and when he thought the time was right, offered me a new career in the newspaper field. I will forever be indebted to the man, not just for the opportunity, but for experiences and the wonderful memories he shared with me. My association with him will carry with me for the rest of my life, added Alexander. As one of the perhaps thousands of acorns that dropped from the George Sample tree of newspaper publishing, the two things I will remember most are that he always took a special interest in you and what you were doing. He would call out of the blue with a critique of something he thought might make the paper better. If he liked something he would call and tell you, noted Ed Coats, president of New Market Press, Inc., of Middlebury, Vt. The other was his teaching of getting it right; telling the truth no matter who you were covering and what the consequences may be, said Coats. Not a week goes by that I don't invoke his name as the George Sample way of operating, again more acorns from his fruitful tree, he said. Among Sample's other accomplishments are a 1972 nomination by the A.P. for a Pulitzer Prize for a series of editorials about censorship. His passion for golf and love of his community drove him to persuade the City of Corry to construct an 18-hole public golf course in the mid-60s. His vision and perseverance turned farmland into one of the city's true treasures. He chaired the golf commission that oversaw operations for over 40 years. Sample, and his wife Janet who preceded him in death in 1998, were the parents to eight children, five girls and three boys. A 1946 graduate of Penn State University, he was the editor of the student newspaper, the Collegian. That same year he became a reporter for the Corry Journal, the same paper of which he would eventually become publisher. In December of 2000 Sample resigned from American Publishing Co. and sold his interest in Denton Publications and New Market Press. Along with his eight children he formed the Sample News Group, and purchased the Corry Journal. The news group now owns publications in four states, with the Times-Record of Brunswick, Maine, being their most recent acquisition in 2008.

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