James B. Boone Jr., Post parent company founder and chairman, dies 

Published 1:46 pm Thursday, February 16, 2023

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — James B. “Jim” Boone Jr., founder and chairman of the board of Boone Newsmedia, Inc. (BNI), died Monday, Feb. 13, at UAB Hospital-Highlands in Birmingham, Alabama, after a brief illness. He was 87.

Boone, a lifelong newspaperman, succeeded his father, Buford Boone, as publisher of The Tuscaloosa (Alabama) News in 1968 and built over the following half-century a community media company that now owns or manages 91 newspapers and related print and digital products in Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia.

“I do not think I am able to fully explain what Mr. Boone meant to me personally or professionally. For more than 20 years I had the absolute privilege to learn from him and experience the culture he established and expected,” said Tim Reeves, former editor of The Vicksburg Post. Reeves worked for Boone Newsmedia in a number of locations throughout his career, including media operations in Alabama, Virginia and Mississippi. “The interactions I will cherish most are not those that pertained to journalism or the business of newspapers, but rather the times he would ask about my family, my children and make sure I was taking my health seriously.
“He was the consummate professional and businessman, the epitome of a Southern gentleman. The deliberate manner in which he would speak, no wasted words, and thoughtful precision of his message, is something to aspire to,” Reeves added. “My heart is shattered for the loss, but my life was made far richer for having known and worked for Mr. Boone.”

Newspapers in Mississippi owned and/or managed by BNI include The Vicksburg Post, The Natchez Democrat, The Brookhaven Daily Leader, The Prentiss Headlight, The Oxford Eagle, The Panolian and The Picayune Item.

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Boone Newspapers purchased The Vicksburg Post from the Cashman family in 2013. In 2019, Boone’s daughter and current Vicksburg Post publisher, Catherine Hadaway, moved to Vicksburg to run the newspaper. Hadaway is also a Director of Boone Newsmedia, Inc. 

Boone lived in Natchez from 1980 to 1986 and was always fond of Vicksburg. He enjoyed many meals and pieces of coconut cake at Walnut Hills and was immensely interested in following along as the Vicksburg Warren Partnership moved forward with the new port expansion project. Boone was a contemporary of Louis Cashman, Jr.

“Mr. Boone served as an inspiration and guiding light on numerous occasions. I especially treasure his input and the faith he placed in my work at Boone Newsmedia, and of course, the wisdom he imparted through insightful and entertaining stories from his illustrious career,” said Vicksburg Post Managing Editor Anna Guizerix. “He was fully committed to the advancement of his field, which is evidenced not only by his lifelong devotion to the company but also the work ethic and compassionate leadership skills he instilled in his youngest daughter, Catherine.”

The company, which had operated as Boone Newspapers, Inc., since its founding, was renamed Boone Newsmedia, Inc., in 2022 to reflect its considerable progress in serving readers and advertisers both digitally and in print.

Boone’s father, James Buford Boone, Sr., served as publisher of The Tuscaloosa News from 1947 to 1968. In 1957, the elder Boone wrote the 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning editorial “What a Price for Peace” after the attempt to integrate the University of Alabama was met with mob violence.

“Dad believed in the mission of newspapers,” Hadaway said. “He saw firsthand what a newspaper with a productive, solution-based editorial page could do, and he looked at the newspaper as an engine that had the obligation to make its community a better place and to advocate for community progress.”

Boone was a 1958 graduate of the School of Commerce and Business Administration at the University of Alabama and earned an Honorary Doctor of Humane Letters at the University of Alabama in 1993. He served on the President’s Cabinet, Board of Visitors of the College of Commerce and Business Administration, the Board of Visitors of the College of Communication and Information Sciences, and on the board of the 1831 Foundation.

Boone earned the Julia & Henry Tutwiler Award from the University of Alabama and was admitted to the Communications Hall of Fame, College of Communication & Information Sciences at the University of Alabama; the Alabama Business Hall of Fame, College of Commerce & Business Administration, University of Alabama; the Civic Hall of Fame, West Alabama Chamber of Commerce (Tuscaloosa); and was named a Pillar of West Alabama by the Community Foundation of Tuscaloosa. Boone was a proud Eagle Scout and member of Alpha Tau Omega Fraternity.

Boone earned multiple industry-related awards including the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Alabama Press Association; the Casey Award from the University of Minnesota for leadership in the newspaper industry; and the Frank Mayborn Award from the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association for leadership in the industry. 

Boone served on the Board of Directors of Regions Financial Corporation and was chairman of the corporate governance committee and a member of the trust committee in Birmingham, Ala. He also served on the Board of Directors at Regions Bank, Tuscaloosa, retiring from both in 2004 after many years of service.

Boone, who had moved in 2022 from Tuscaloosa to Lowndesboro, Alabama, remained active in BNI and with its affiliate newspapers until his death, regularly meeting with senior management, publishers and other staff members by video conference. 

“Jim Boone, by his example, set the highest bar for so many for how to lead and serve a community, civic organization, church, a business organization or his family,” said Todd Carpenter, president and CEO of Boone Newsmedia and Carpenter Newsmedia. “Put simply, he made doing the right thing the main thing and that guided his every choice and decision. He was also dedicated to recognizing talent in every person that perhaps they did not know they had, then with sincere determination, he dedicated himself to guiding, leading and driving them to reach their highest potential. All who knew Jim benefitted from his benevolent interest, first in their welfare as a human being, followed by wisdom and guidance he gave generously to all that is both uncommon and special,” Carpenter continued. “We are all so fortunate to have his example to follow because it inspires us to pause and think about our fellow man, and then to work harder to strive to make those around us better. That is what he did, every day, without pause, rest or interest in recognition for his good deeds.”

The funeral is planned for 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Lowndesboro Methodist Church, 198 S. Broad St., Lowndesboro, Ala., followed by a graveside service at Oakview Cemetery in Lowndesboro and a gathering at The Marengo House, 100 N. Broad St., Lowndesboro, Ala.

 Boone is survived by his wife, Carolyn, and five children.