Hedley Donovan, 76, who as editor in chief of Time Inc. from 1964 to 1979 was one of the most influential and respected figures in American journalism, died yesterday in a New York City hospital. He had a chronic lung ailment.
He joined Time Inc. as a reporter for Fortune magazine in 1945, and served as that magazine's managing editor before becoming editorial director of Time Inc. In that post, he was second in editorial command of all Time publications to the company's legendary co-founder, Henry Luce.
On April 16, 1964, he succeeded Luce as editor in chief of all Time Inc. magazines. In his new post, Mr. Donovan took over supervision of the national and international editions of four magazines with a circulation of more than 13 million in this country and 50 million worldwide. Time also had book club and book publishing subsidiaries.
During Mr. Donovan's 15 years as editor in chief, Time went through a series changes, most for the better. Time also pushed the expansion of such publications as Sports Illustrated, which gained great popularity. In 1972, Time founded the successful Money magazine, followed two years later by People. Another success was Time-Life books.
Two of the less fortunate events of his tenure were the temporary suspension in 1972 of publication of the weekly picture magazine, Life, which has since returned as a monthly; and the purchase of the failing old Washington Star newspaper, which Mr. Donovan termed "foolhardy" in his memoirs.
A man of imposing height and appearance, he gained an enviable reputation for talent and tact in managing a large and rich organization composed of strong-willed writers, editors, and business staff members.
In his 1989 autobiography, "Right Places, Right Times: Forty Years in Journalism, Not Counting My Paper Route," he told of himself, the people he supervised, and how he did it. Describing himself as a man of "massive calm" and an "excess of Protestant work ethic," he implied that while others might find "intellectuals" difficult to work with, he had developed some helpful guidelines.
These included "remind them why they like what they are doing"; don't be "stingy with criticism" (but chewing-outs should be done privately); and "pay the intellectuals well." His calming influence also guided his publications during the Vietnam War and the Watergate crisis, which both challenged his publications and divided his staff.
One issue of Life included photos of 217 servicemen killed in Vietnam in the preceding week. In 1973, Time was among the first publications to call for the resignation of President Nixon.
After Mr. Donovan retired from journalism, it was announced that he was joining the White House staff of Jimmy Carter as a senior adviser, reporting directly to the president. When the appointment was announced, The Washington Post, in an editorial, said Mr. Donovan was "a man of enormous professional talent and personal distinction." He spent what was widely regarded as a disappointing year and resigned before the 1980 election.
Hedley Williams Donovan was born May 24, 1914, in Brainerd, Minn. In 1934, he graduated magna cum laude from the University of Minnesota with a degree in history. He also had edited the Minnesota Daily campus newspaper, was a part-time reporter for the old United Press, won election to Phi Beta Kappa, and become a Rhodes Scholar. He spent the next two years studying history at Oxford University's Hertford College.
Returning to this country, he took a job as a cub reporter with The Washington Post. He began covering fire and police stories and reported on civic meetings before covering Capitol Hill, the White House and the State Department.
He left The Post to serve in Naval Intelligence during World War II. After his discharge as a lieutenant commander, he joined Time Inc.'s Fortune magazine as a staff writer in New York. He was named an associate editor of Fortune in 1951, then managing editor in 1953. In 1959, after Luce had a heart attack, he sought to pass on some of his duties to a possible successor.
Appointed editorial director, Mr. Donovan was second only to Luce in the editorial chain of command. He not only supervised the publication of Fortune, Architectural Forum, and House and Home, but also served as managing editor of Time, Life and Sports Illustrated.
Luce, who Mr. Donovan once wrote was "imperious" and "rude" and demeaning, as well as a "great man" with an "extraordinary mind," stepped down in 1964 and named Mr. Donovan as his successor as editor in chief.
The title had no real counterpart in American journalism. Most critics agreed that at no other publishing concern was the division between the business and news operations, or church and state as Time writers called it, so rigid. And nowhere else did editors not only run magazines but seemingly start them at will.
Reflecting on his career at Time, Mr. Donovan wrote in his autobiography that the event he might have been most proud of was the publication of an entire issue of Life magazine devoted to Picasso. In 1985 he wrote "Roosevelt to Reagan: A Reporter's Encounters With Nine Presidents," in which he recalled a less than brilliant passage he wrote for Fortune in 1952 that he would rather forget.
While in his book he rated Harry S. Truman as a member of the "Good to Very Good category of Presidents," his Fortune piece said of Truman that "the precise shading of mediocrity to be assigned to him may well occupy historians for many years."
He said that while meeting as many world leaders as he had could make one feel important, he felt really important when the Doonesbury comic strip started featuring a Time reporter named Roland Hedley.
Mr. Donovan lived in Manhattan and Sands Point, N.Y. He had been a director of the Council on Foreign Relations, fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Trilateral Commission.
His wife, the former Dorothy Hannon, whom he married in 1941, died in 1978. His survivors include two sons, Mark, of Manhattan, and Peter, of Darien, Conn.; a daughter, Helen Donovan of Newton, Mass.; a sister, Elizabeth Edmonds of Wilmette, Ill.; and two grandchildren.
AP Reporter & Editor
Gardner Bridge, 83, a retired Associated Press reporter and editor, died Aug. 13 at Arlington Hospital of complications resulting from an intestinal obstruction.
Mr. Bridge, who lived in Fairfax, was born in Stockbridge, N.Y. As a young man, he worked as a telegraph operator for the AP in New York while attending Columbia University's journalism school. He joined the AP news staff in New York in 1928 and later worked for the old United Press in Albany, then returned to the AP. He worked for the AP in New York City and Albany before moving to the AP Washington bureau in 1942.
In Washington he covered politics and the Senate, worked as a supervisory editor and covered national political conventions from 1944 to 1968. He retired in 1971.
In retirement, Mr. Bridge participated in square dancing and was active in square dance clubs with his wife, the former Loraine "Bo" Frey, whom he married in 1929. He was a member of Fairfax Christian Church.
In addition to his wife, of Fairfax, survivors include two daughters, Vivian Bridge of Reston and Regina Steele of Fairfax; two grandchildren; and a great-grandson.
DYLAN I. McGEE
High School Student
Dylan Ian McGee, 17, who was to have begun his senior year at Montgomery Blair High School in Silver Spring, died Aug. 9 in a hospital in Nags Head, N.C. He died of injuries he received in a boating accident in Roanoke Sound near Nags Head earlier that day.
A resident of Silver Spring, he was vacationing at the time of his death.
A spokesman for the Nags Head fire and rescue department said that Mr. McGee was riding a jet ski, a type of recreational vehicle, that collided with a wave runner, another recreational vehicle. The spokesman said that the collision was an accident and no charges have been filed.
Mr. McGee, who was born in Massachusetts, came to this area from Arizona in 1984. At Montgomery Blair, he had served as class vice president and had served on a countywide student government body. He drew cartoons for the school newspaper. He also had been a member of the school baseball and golf teams.
He had been a lifeguard with the YMCA.
Survivors include his father, Michael McGee of Reading, Pa.; his mother, Kate McGee, a brother, Jesse McGee, and a sister, Rebecca McGee, all of Silver Spring; and two grandparents, Roy and Mary Leonard of Arlington, Mass.
FRANCIS R. SAMSON
Francis R. Samson, 73, a retired Army lieutenant colonel who served 28 years in the Corps of Engineers, died of cirrhosis of the liver Aug. 12 at DeWitt Army Hospital at Fort Bevloir.
Col. Samson, who lived in Alexandria, was born in Philadelphia. He joined the Army in 1940 and served in the Pacific during World War II. Postwar assignments included duty in Korea, France and Germany and several locations in the United States. He retired from the Army in 1968.
He had been a permanent resident of the Washington area since 1966.
Survivors include his wife of 44 years, Catherine C. Samson of Alexandria; two sons, F. Michael Samson of Woodbridge and Stephen E. Samson of Belgium, Wis.; two sisters, Dolores Sorich and Marie H. Durante, both of San Jose, Calif.; and five grandchildren.
GENEVIEVE G. GILDEA
Widow of Congressman
Genevieve Gallagher Gildea, 100, an area resident since 1980 who was the widow of a former member of Congress, died of cardiac arrest Aug. 12 at the Carroll Manor nursing home in Hyattsville.
Mrs. Gildea moved here from her native Pennsylvania. She lived in Bethesda for eight years before entering the nursing home in 1988. She also had lived here from 1935 to 1939 when her husband, James H. Gildea (D-Pa.), served in the House of Representatives. He died in 1988.
Survivors include three sons, James Jr., of Vienna, Robert, of Arlington, and Daniel, of Lansford, Pa.; two daughters, Marjorie Alford of Arlington and Kathleen Kelley of Bethesda; 10 grandchildren; and 11 great-grandchildren.