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Newspaper icon, father of Daily Herald publisher, dies at 84

CORRY (AP) — George R. Sample Jr., a journalist and newspaper owner whose career spanned more than 60 years, died Wednesday. He was 84.
Mr. Sample’s son, George “Scoop” Sample III of Huntingdon, said his father died of cardiac arrest at Corry Memorial Hospital, several months after he was injured in a fall at his home.
“In typical fashion, he was telling stories to the ambulance attendants as they took him to the hospital,” his son wrote in an e-mail to friends and family Wednesday morning. “While it is a sad time, it was a great ride and he took many of us along, building the finest newspaper family in the country. For him, the son of a tanner, an accidental college graduate, he achieved greatness in family, work and life.”
In the 1960s, Mr. Sample was one of the founders of what would become American Publishing Co., which was later sold to Hollinger International. He served as vice chairman for Hollinger’s American Publishing Co. and was credited for making improvements to the Chicago Sun-Times and the Jerusalem Post.
He also created the family-run Sample News Group, which owns two newspapers in Maine and five newspapers in Pennsylvania, including The Daily News, and was the longtime publisher of the Corry Journal, where he started working after graduating college.
Corry Journal general manager Bob Williams called Mr. Sample an icon and a champion of the common man. George Sample didn’t care whose toes he had to step on to tell the truth, Williams said.
“Whether it was city government or his friend down the street, he always told the correct story,” said Williams, 42, who was 9 years old when he first met Mr. Sample.
In 1972, The Associated Press managing editors cited Mr. Sample for editorials about censorship in a drug case.
Mr. Sample suffered a stroke several years ago, but still worked every morning at the Corry Journal until earlier this year. He was known for drinking a black cup of coffee and writing all the newspaper’s headlines. A golf enthusiast, he wrote a column for the newspaper called, “Teed Off by George” where over the years he questioned everything from the role of the FBI to local politicians.
In a 1995 column, Mr. Sample summed up his philosophy on newspapering.
“I hope we gave a little comfort to those less fortunate than ourselves. Helped unseat those who became too comfortable at the expense of others. And shed a little light along the way,” Mr. Sample wrote.
Born in 1924 in Curwensville, Mr. Sample graduated in 1946 from Penn State University, where he was managing editor of The Collegian newspaper and played lacrosse. Six of his eight children also attended Penn State.
In the 1960s, he was instrumental in getting Corry officials to build a municipal golf course, and oversaw its construction.
Mr. Sample is preceded in death by his wife, Janet, who died in 1998 at age 75.
In her honor, he endowed the Janet Neff Sample Center for Manners and Civility at Penn State Behrend in Erie. The goal of the center is “to foster a civility-enriched academic experience” on campus, according to the program’s Web site.
He is survived by his children, and more than a dozen grandchildren. His son, Scoop Sample, is publisher of The Daily News in Huntingdon and son, Mike Sample, is the owner and publisher of The Titusville Herald.
Funeral arrangements can be found on page two of today’s Daily Herald.