James M. "Jimmy" Moroney Jr., 85, chairman emeritus of the Dallas-based Belo Corp., parent company of the Dallas Morning News and a number of TV stations and cable news channels, died Feb. 18 of pneumonia at his home in Dallas.
The last surviving grandson of George Bannerman Dealey, who founded the Morning News in 1885, Mr. Moroney served on the Belo board for a record 48 years. He held almost every senior management position at the company, including president and chief executive of the Morning News and Belo.
"He exerted a steady and powerful influence on the company's transitions and expansions over half a century, and in many instances, he was the pivotal influence," said Robert W. Decherd, Belo's chairman, president and chief executive.
As CEO of Belo, Mr. Moroney was instrumental in the purchase of Corinthian Broadcasting Group in 1983 from the Dun and Bradstreet Corp. At the time, the $606 million transaction was the largest in U.S. broadcast history. He also played a key role in the 1970s, when the Morning News moved from being privately held to publicly traded. It became one of the nation's largest publicly traded media companies.
Mr. Moroney was born in Dallas and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 1943. He then joined the Navy and served in the Pacific and in the D-Day landing at Normandy.
As a college student, he had worked part time for Belo during summers and joined the Morning News as a reporter after leaving the Navy in 1946. He also had advertising, promotion and circulation positions before becoming assistant treasurer of Belo in 1951. He was elected to the board of directors in 1952.
In 1970, he became executive vice president of Belo Corp. and president and CEO of Belo Broadcasting Corp. He was named chairman of Belo Broadcasting in 1974.
Elected president and CEO of the Morning News in 1980, he helped provide the talent and resources necessary for the paper to win a war with its afternoon rival, the Dallas Times Herald, and become the leading newspaper in the Southwest.
Mr. Moroney retired from Belo in 1986.
Survivors include his wife of 52 years, Helen Claire "Lynn" Wilhoit Moroney of Dallas; four children, James M. Moroney III, Michael Moroney and Molly Moroney Norrett, all of Dallas, and Mindy Moroney Penrose of Nanyuki, Kenya; and six grandchildren.