(AP) Sam Hanna, political columnist and publisher of three Louisiana newspapers, died Sunday from complications of emphysema. He was 72.
Hanna owned and published three newspapers — The Concordia Sentinel in Ferriday, The Franklin Sun in Winnsboro, and The Ouachita Citizen in West Monroe, La.
Before entering the newspaper business as an owner, Hanna worked at The Monroe Morning World and The News-Star-World when the paper was owned by the Ewing family of Monroe. He began his career with Monroe newspapers in 1956.
“Sam was probably the dean of the state’s newspaper publishers, the most knowledgeable about state politics, certainly the one with the most institutional knowledge,” said Kathy Spurlock, executive editor of The News-Star.
Hannah was also known for his weekly political column, called “One Man’s Opinion,” published in newspapers statewide.
“There are very few people in my opinion who have their finger on the pulse of politics in Louisiana more than he did,” Secretary of State Al Ater said. “He had a sixth sense of the happenings of the political situation in this state — police jury to governor, your source for information was Sam Hanna.”
A native of Winnsboro, Hanna graduated with a journalism degree from LSU in 1955 and began his career writing about the outdoors for the Monroe Morning World and The News-Star World. His appointment as political editor is what cemented his place in Louisiana as a respected political observer. He called former Govs. Earl Long, Jimmy Davis, John McKeithen, Edwin Edwards, Dave Treen and Mike Foster friends. Hanna appeared in numerous documentaries over the years, interviewed about his friendship with Earl Long and his knowledge of the Long family.
At the age of 33, Hanna bought his first newspaper, The Concordia Sentinel in Ferriday, in 1965. As the years passed, he bought and sold a few more papers before purchasing The Ouachita Citizen in 1996 with his son, Sam.
“I learned more from working for my father than I ever did in any journalism class,” said Sam Hanna Jr., who now helps operate his father’s franchise.
Hanna is survived by his wife of nearly 46 years, Mary Sue, and his children, Mary Linda Rocconi, Lesley Hanna Capdepon and Sam Hanna Jr. Funeral arrangements are pending under the direction of Young’s Funeral Home in Ferriday.