William Block Sr., the longtime publisher of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette who helped orchestrate the purchase of its larger rival, died of pneumonia late Monday afternoon, according to the newspaper. He was 89.
Block joined his family’s company, Block Communications Inc., in 1936 and became publisher of the Post-Gazette 10 years later.
He was co-publisher of the Pittsburgh newspaper and The Blade in Toledo for 46 years and chaired of the family-owned company for 14 years until he retired in 2001.
Co-workers said they would remember him for his unassuming manner and the relaxed conversations he had with reporters at the Post-Gazette.
“He was not only a kind and generous employer. He was a friend. Everybody thought of him that way, from copy boys to the top editorial people,” said William E. Deibler, a former managing editor who is now retired.
In 1992, Block helped orchestrate the purchase of the Pittsburgh Press, then the city’s largest newspaper, during an eight-month strike by delivery truck drivers at the Press and Post-Gazette. The Post-Gazette closed the Press after buying it from E.W. Scripps Co. in exchange for cash and the sale of The Herald of Monterey, Calif.
He is survived by his wife, Maxine, and four children.