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San Jose Mercury News Publisher William Ott Dies of Cancer

January 27, 1989

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) _ William A. Ott, president and publisher of the San Jose Mercury News, has died of cancer. He was 61.

″He was quintessentially a newspaperman. He loved it,″ said James K. Batten, president and chief executive officer of Knight-Ridder Inc., parent company of the Mercury News.

Ott, who died Thursday, was Knight-Ridder’s senior vice president for operations for nine years before taking charge of the Mercury News in February 1986.

In San Jose, he was a highly visible member of the community, joining a wide variety of local and regional community organizations.

Ott was an honor graduate of the University of Georgia in 1949 and attended law school at Mercer University in Macon. He served as a criminal investigation division agent in Korea from 1945 to 1947.

He got his first newspaper job at 11, delivering papers for the Moultrie (Ga.) Observer. He became circulation manager for the newspaper four years later.

At 23, he became a full-time reporter at the Macon Telegraph & News in Georgia, where during his 20-year stay he rose to managing editor and editor.

Ott moved to the business side of journalism when Knight-Ridder bought the Macon paper and he moved to the Beacon Journal in Akron, where he served as publisher from 1975 to 1977.

Ott was to have become chairman of the San Jose newspaper on April 1.

Ott is survived by his wife, Bettie, five sons, two daughters, eight grandchildren and a sister.

Funeral services were pending.

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