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Longtime newspaper industry leader George Irish dies at age of 78

George Irish was formerly the president of Hearst Newspapers.

George Irish, a man who headed one of the largest newspaper companies in the country, died in New Jersey last week.

Irish, who was 78 years old, was a sincere listener and a gentle life coach, according to an obituary published in The Dallas Morning News. He considered Plano his second home.

Irish got his start in the newspaper industry as a paper delivery boy in Toledo, Ohio, and borrowed money from his mother to manage the route, according to his obituary.

He joined Hearst, which publishes major dailies including the Houston Chronicle and the San Francisco Chronicle, in 1979. During his time with the company, he worked in multiple leadership roles, including serving as president of Hearst Newspapers.

Irish also was the publisher of multiple Texas-based newspapers, including the Beaumont Enterprise and the San Antonio Light, according to Hearst’s website.

After his retirement in 2008, Irish worked as the vice president and eastern director of the Hearst Foundations, a philanthropic arm of the company.

“George was a member of our family,” William Randolph Hearst III, chairman of the board of directors of Hearst, said in a written statement last week. “We are deeply saddened by his passing but filled with gratitude for his many years of stewardship, professional wisdom and, especially, his friendship.”

Irish met multiple popes, including John Paul II, Benedict XVI and Francis, his obituary stated. He also met multiple U.S. presidents, including George W. Bush, whom he met in Midland.

Irish had three daughters, Sandra, Christine and Diane, with his wife of 39 years, Mary Rettig Irish, who died in 2005. Daughter Diane died when she was an infant, the obituary stated. In 2006, Irish married his second wife, Jeannie Wetherill Irish, and took care of her daughters, Jayne and Amy.

He is also survived by seven grandchildren.

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