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About Whitelaw Reid
Whitelaw Reid (July 26, 1913 – April 18, 2009) was an American journalist who later served as editor, president and chairman of the family-owned New York Herald Tribune. An avid sportsman throughout his life, he won a national singles title in his age group at age 85 and a national doubles title at age 90, both in tennis.
Reid was born to Helen Rogers Reid and Ogden Mills Reid at the family estate, Ophir Hall, in Purchase, New York, on July 26, 1913. He was given the name of his grandfather Whitelaw Reid, who published the newspaper and also served as United States Ambassador to both France and the United Kingdom, as well as being the Republican vice presidential nominee with incumbent President Benjamin Harrison in 1892 (lost).
His early education was at the Lincoln School, New York City, New York, and at the St. Paul's School, Concord, New Hampshire. He later attended Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, where he was awarded a degree in sociology in 1936. While in college, he sailed a schooner across the Atlantic Ocean from Norway to the U.S. with a group of his fellow students and was a member of the Conservative Party of the Yale Political Union.
He joined his father's newspaper, the New York Herald Tribune, in 1938, working in the mechanical department, after being trained in printing at the Rochester Institute of Technology, Henrietta, New York, and learning the operation of the firm's Mergenthaler Linotype machines. By 1940 he was a reporter, and spent time in the United Kingdom reporting on World War II during The Blitz and filing reports based on flying with the U.K. Royal Air Force in missions over Europe and on a trawler in the English Channel monitoring for Nazi actions.
He served in the U.S. Navy, commissioned in 1941 as a pilot, spending most of the war transporting Navy planes in the U.S. He was sent to the Pacific Theater in 1945, where his squadron based on Iwo Jima, Japan, performed survey missions off the coast of Japan.
After completing his military service in 1946, Reid returned to the paper as assistant to the editor, and was named editor and vice president after his father's death the following year. He was named editor and president in 1953, and assumed the title of chairman in April 1955, succeeding his mother, at the same time his brother Ogden R. Reid was named as publisher.
Reid's leadership of the paper saw circulation increase, while journalistic standards declined. A paper that The New York Times described as "a newspaperman's newspaper," staffed by talented reporters, resorted to puzzles and gimmicks to draw readers. Ambassador and investor John Hay Whitney bought the parent company from the Reid family in 1958, but a redesign and new reporters failed to revive the paper, which succumbed to the effects of strikes and other difficulties which ended in 1967 when what had become the New York World Journal Tribune ceased publication in 1967. The suspension of publication by the World Journal Tribune on May 5, 1967, left New York City with three major daily newspapers — the Daily News, the New York Post and The New York Times — the same papers that have served the city for the succeeding decades.
While with the Herald Tribune, Reid was the president of The Fresh Air Fund, a fundraising effort run through the paper that helped provide summer vacations for underprivileged children living in New York City. After the paper's demise, the program was carried on by The New York Times.
Following the closure of the paper, he established Reid Enterprises, serving until 1975 as its president.
His first marriage, to the former Joan Brandon, ended with their divorce in Reno, Nevada, in September 1959. The two had been married in 1948 and had had two children, Brandon and Carson.
An avid tennis player for most of his life, Reid won the national indoor singles championship in 1998 for competitors age 85 and older, earning the fourth spot in nationwide rankings in his age group. In September 2003, together with David Carey, he won the United States Tennis Association's national clay-court doubles championship for men over age 90. During his life, Reid had been a pilot, yachtsman, skier, swimmer and rode horses, in addition to his lifelong passion for playing tennis.
A resident of Bedford Hills, New York, Reid died at age 95 on April 18, 2009 at the White Plains Hospital Center, White Plains, New York, from complications resulting from lung and heart failure. He was survived by his second wife, the former Elizabeth Ann Brooks, whom he married in 1959. In addition to the two children from his first marriage, he was survived by the two children from his second marriage, John Graham and Gina Rogers, and by 11 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.
Ophir Hall, the family's estate, is now the site of Manhattanville College.