NCR Founding Publisher Michael Greene Dies at 84

By McElwee, Joshua J. | National Catholic Reporter, January 18, 2013 | Go to article overview

NCR Founding Publisher Michael Greene Dies at 84


McElwee, Joshua J., National Catholic Reporter


KANSAS CITY, MO. * A memorial service will be held here Jan. 26 for Michael Greene, the founding publisher of the National Catholic Reporter.

Greene, a husband, father and U.S. Army veteran who turned to philanthropy and social justice advocacy after leaving NCR, died Dec. 30 while receiving care from the Veterans Administration Medical Center in Kansas City. He was 84.

Part of a team of people--with editor Robert Hoyt and Kansas City, Mo., diocesan priest Fr. Vincent Lovett, among others--who founded the paper, Greene served as publisher from its first issue, dated Oct. 28, 1964, until November 1965.

Upon his departure, Greene was replaced by Donald Thorman, who served in the role until his death from a heart attack in November 1977.

Speaking during a talk at NCR's offices last fall, Greene said the idea to create NCR came after he, Hoyt and Lovett had worked together to found the Catholic Reporter, a Kansas City diocesan newspaper, in 1959.

"I was satisfied to have a paper that prided itself on very limited resources to attempt to do some reporting, and that's why we called it the Reporter," Greene said. "And after doing that for about a year, I realized that nobody else in the world of Catholic publications was attempting to do that on a national basis. I thought, 'Why can't we try that?"

After hosting a 1964 dinner that raised some $1,600 for the new paper, Greene said, he and the others decided to move forward with the venture, publishing the national paper concurrently with the diocesan edition.

With the Second Vatican Council under way in Rome by 1962, Pope John XXIII "was our very best circulation promotion guy," Greene said, with news of the council's events helping to propel the new national paper to an average of 1,000 new subscribers per week in the first year.

A native of Wheeling, W.V., Greene graduated from the University of Notre Dame in Indiana with a degree in philosophy of literature and was named the institution's "man of the year" in 1963, accepting the award at a ceremony hosted by its longtime president, Holy Cross Fr. Theodore Hesburgh.

Before moving to Kansas City in 1959 with his wife and family, Greene had worked for a number of other news organizations. Drafted into the U.S. Army during the Korean War, he first served as a correspondent for Stars and Stripes, the daily newspaper of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Following discharge from the Army as a sergeant, Greene then worked for The Record, the newspaper of the Louisville, Ky., archdiocese, and The Review, Baltimore's Catholic newspaper (now the Catholic Review), before moving to Kansas City.

After departing NCR in 1965, Greene went on to serve as the vice president for institutional advancement for the Kansas City Art Institute, an independent college of art and design. …

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