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Co-Founder Of Knight-Ridder Publishing Empire Dies

February 6, 1991

SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) _ James L. Knight, who with his brother built a family newspaper into the Knight-Ridder publishing empire, died Tuesday night after a long illness. He was 81.

Knight died at St. John’s Hospital of a respiratory ailment, nursing supervisor Beverly Fairbairn said.

Knight’s father, C.L. Knight, became owner of the family’s first newspaper, the Akron (Ohio) Beacon-Journal, in 1909, the year his son James was born. Starting with the acquisition of a second newspaper in 1937, James and his older brother, John S. Knight, built the company into one of the largest communications firms in the country.

John was the editorial conscience that won Pulitzer prizes. James, a college dropout, provided the technical and financial wizardry that drove the business.

A merger created Knight-Ridder in 1974. The Miami-based Knight-Ridder Inc. now owns 29 dailies, including The Miami Herald and The Philadelphia Inquirer, and was 189th on the most recent Fortune 500 list of biggest U.S. companies, with $2.3 billion in sales in 1989.

James Knight is survived by his second wife, the former Barbara Richardson; daughters Barbara Toomey; Marilyn North of Morganton, N.C.; Marjorie Crane of Racine, Wis.; and Beverly Olson of Macon, Ga.; 11 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

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