Magazine article Editor & Publisher

The House That Kay Built

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

The House That Kay Built

Article excerpt

All for the love of the game

Kay Graham played in a lineup that was newspaper publishing's mid-20th- century equivalent of the 1927 New York Yankees.

Her "teammates," who served with her on boards of the American Newspaper Publishers Association (ANPA), the Newspaper Advertising Bureau (NAB), and The Associated Press, were themselves the industry's top sluggers. Yet last week they remembered Graham not just with affection but with something like awe.

"I really believe she loved the business, and with her love of the business, she brought an enthusiasm, a willingness to participate, and the ability to be very, very candid," said Stanton Cook in a phone interview from his vacation home in Michigan. Cook, the retired chairman of the Tribune Co., recalled his "wonderful opportunity" to serve with Graham on various ANPA, NAB, and AP boards. "She just was good, she was good at what she did, and always a team player, which is important in getting things done at the board level. She understood the industry, wanted to make the industry better, and wanted to make The Washington Post better, and she succeeded at both."

Edward W. Estlow, retired president and CEO of the E.W. Scripps Co., was literally a Graham teammate, on boards and as a tennis partner, he said, speaking from his office in Denver. "I always thought she addressed those publisher boards intelligently, with great vigor, and she also played tennis with great vigor." As both a tennis player and publishing executive, he said, "She was always very competitive, but very smart."

Estlow also recalled her uncanny touch in bringing people together, for any number of reasons. "I had told Kay in passing that I had spent more time with Deng Xiaoping than I had with any American president. So she invited me and my wife Charlotte to a lovely dinner at her home, 30 to 40 people, for the Reagans. She wanted to make sure that I spent more time with the American president than the leader of China."

Graham was no big fan of President Reagan's policies, but it was far from the first time she opened her home and was hospitable to people with whom she disagreed.

"Katharine Graham stayed above anything petty, and that's one of the qualities that even in a crisis you remember and admire her for," said Herb Klein, editor in chief of the Copley Press Inc. …

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