George Chaplin, 88, a McLean resident since 2001 who was a retired editor-in-chief of the Honolulu Advertiser and past president of the American Society of Newspaper Editors, died of pneumonia Feb. 17 at Virginia Hospital Center-Arlington. He died after surgery for a broken arm.
Mr. Chaplin, who served as the Advertiser's editor for 28 years before retiring in 1986, was instrumental in transforming the paper from a near-bankrupt voice of the conservative establishment to Hawaii's largest newspaper.
When he took over the paper's reins, it had a circulation of 47,000 and lagged far behind its rival, the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. When Mr. Chaplin retired, his paper boasted a circulation of 90,000.
As editor, he expanded the newsroom staff and broadened the paper's appeal to Hawaians who had once viewed the Advertiser as the voice of the establishment. He also directed the paper's support for statehood, the building of the battleship Arizona memorial, and the paper's leadership in examining state planning and development issues.
Mr. Chaplin was a chemistry graduate of Clemson College in his native South Carolina and later was a Nieman fellow at Harvard University. He served with the Army in the Pacific during World War II.
Before becoming editor of the Advertiser, he had written for papers in the South, served as managing editor of the Camden Courier Journal in New Jersey and the San Diego Journal in California, and was editor of the New Orleans Item.
His wife, the former Esta Solomon, died in 2001.
Survivors include a son, Steve, of McLean; a daughter, Jerri Chaplin of Charleston, S.C.; a sister; and four grandsons.