Eugene Patterson

Eugene Patterson 2002

St. Petersburg Times

Eugene Patterson is editor emeritus of the St. Petersburg Times, Florida's largest daily newspaper. He retired as chairman and CEO of that newspaper in 1988 after 41 years in the news business.

Reared in the Great Depression on a two-mule farm near Adel, Georgia, he worked in the 1950s as New York night bureau manager, then London bureau chief of the old United Press. Back home in the 1960s as editor of The Atlanta Constitution, he won the Pulitzer Prize for editorials advocating civil rights for blacks.

He was managing editor of The Washington Post when it published the Pentagon Papers in 1971. For 17 years after that he served as editor and president, then chairman of the St. Petersburg Times and its Washington publication, Congressional Quarterly, and of Governing magazine which he founded.

A graduate of the University of Georgia, he holds honorary degrees from 15 institutions including Harvard, Duke, Emory and Indiana Universities. He earned the Silver Star and the Bronze Star with Oak Leaf Cluster in World War II tank combat with General George S. Patton's Third Army in Europe, and then won his wings postwar as an Army airplane pilot.

From 1964 to 1968 he served as vice chairman of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission. His peers elected him president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors for 1977-78.

For 11 years, from 1974 to 1985, he served on the Pulitzer Prize Board at Columbia University. For six years, 1988 to 1994, he was a member of the board of trustees of Duke University, where a chair in journalism is endowed in his name, and where his daughter, Mary, graduated and where her oldest daughter, Laura, is now a freshman.

His book, "The Changing South of Gene Patterson," based on his 1960s columns in The Atlanta Constitution, was co-edited by Professors Roy Peter Clark and Raymond Arsenault and published in 2002 by The University Press of Florida.

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