Hugh B. Patterson, Jr.

ArkansasGazette.jpgPatterson was married to the daughter of the majority owner of the Arkansas Gazette, and was its publisher for 40 years. During his tenure he upgraded the paper's equipment and created an accounting system that was so good, many other newspapers adopted it. But he's best known for supporting school desegregation in Arkansas. In 1957, most of Little Rock, Ark., was in favor of "separate but equal" schooling of whites and blacks, but a federal court ordered that Central High School must desegregate. The paper's owner, Patterson's father in law J.N. Heiskell, was reluctant to go against the white majority, but Patterson and his wife convinced him otherwise, and the paper was one of the few southern papers to strongly editorialize against segregation. Local business leaders tried to organize a boycott against the paper, but it failed. Still, the Gazette lost about $1 million in ad and subscription revenue, a fortune at the time. The paper won a Pulitzer Prize for public service for its reporting on the issue, and another for its editorials. The Gazette was merged into the Arkansas Democrat in 1991, five years after Patterson retired. He died May 29 in Little Rock at 91.

(from Randy Cassingham)