John H. Murphy III, former Afro-American Newspapers publisher, dies at 94

Ex-publisher John H. Murphy III
Ex-publisher John H. Murphy III (Tiffany H. House)
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By Jessica Anderson
Monday, October 18, 2010; 9:04 PM

John H. Murphy III, 94, former publisher of the Afro-American Newspapers, considered among the most influential publications disseminating news for black readers, died Oct. 16 at the Stella Maris Hospice in Timonium, Md. No cause of death was reported.

Mr. Murphy was the grandson of the paper's founder, former slave John H. Murphy Sr., and was born in Baltimore. He received a bachelor's degree in business administration in 1937 from Temple University in Phialdelphia.

After graduation, Mr. Murphy joined the family newspaper business and began working as the office manager at the Washington Afro-American.

In 1940, he married Alice Quivers, and they had two children.

"John worked just about all of his life at the Afro," said Camay Calloway Murphy, his second wife. She said he knew the business end from college but also was comfortable in every step of production, working with newspaper boys to editors at the paper during his career.

Mr. Murphy was named president of the Afro-American Newspapers, which published a national edition and local versions in several East Coast and Southern cities, in 1967, succeeding his uncle Carl J. Murphy. He became board chairman and publisher in 1974.

His wife said that her husband was heavily involved in the community. "He felt very strongly that with knowledge of what was going on, he could bring black people into the mainstream of things," his wife said.

She said Mr. Murphy examined the features of white-oriented newspapers, and tailored them to attract middle-class black readers from Washington and Baltimore. Among his initiatives was a weekly insert to attract more advertising. The supplement, Dawn magazine, allowed the paper to continue when many black newspapers went out of business.

Mr. Murphy retired as the company's chairman of the board in 1986.

His first wife, Alice Quivers, died in 1979. The next year he married Camay Calloway, the daughter of entertainer Cab Calloway.

In addition to his wife, survivors include two children from his first marriage; and three grandchildren.

- Baltimore Sun


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