Eugene Patterson(1923 - 2013)

Eugene Patterson, a journalist who crusaded for civil rights in American society and higher standards in America's newsrooms, died Saturday (Jan. 12, 2013) after a long illness. The former editor, chairman and chief executive officer of the Times was 89.

During his 41 years in journalism, Mr. Patterson won a Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing, served as president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors and led the Times through an era of rapid growth and recognition by Time magazine as one of America's 10 best newspapers.

In the early 1960s, Mr. Patterson wrote courageous columns for the Atlanta Constitution exhorting whites to acknowledge their responsibility for the racial fracture of the South. His most famous piece ran after four young black girls died in the Birmingham church bombing in 1963.

"If our South is ever to be what we wish it to be," he wrote, "we will plant a flower of nobler resolve for the South now upon these four small graves that we dug."

After moving to St. Petersburg in 1972, Mr. Patterson expanded the Times' local and foreign coverage, and imbued his staff with higher standards on reporting, writing and ethics. Twice in his tenure, the paper won the prestigious Pulitzer.

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Published in the Tampa Bay Times on Jan. 13, 2013