William Garth Sr., the legendary publisher and chairman of the Chicago Citizen Newspaper Group, died Friday. He was 78.
Garth, the guiding force behind what is known as the largest black-owned ABC-audited newspaper in America, died of complications of diabetes, the Chicago Tribune reported, citing family members.
Having started with the Citizen Newspaper in 1969 as an advertising sales representative under the leadership of former Congressman Gus Savage, he purchased the Chatham Citizen, South End Citizen and Chicago Weekend in 1980. Garth later added the South Suburban and the Hyde Park editions, and founded Garthco Publications, which published PUSH Magazine, a bimonthly national publication. With Chicago’s population being nearly 50 percent black, Citizen Newspapers has a total circulation of 121,000 and a weekly readership of over 400,000.
Garth became the first Black person to be elected president of the Illinois Press Association (IPA), the state’s largest newspaper association and the office trade organization for Illinois weekly and daily newspapers. Garth is the second black person in the nation elected president of a statewide press association.
He also sat on the Board of Government Affairs Committee, of the Illinois Press Association and has served as a board member for more than 15 years. In addition, he was elected a stockholder in the Cook County South Suburban Publishers Association and in 2009, was elected to become chairman of the Cook County Publishers Association for 2010.
Garth was also a board member of the Midwest Black Publishers Association. In December 1998, Garth was appointed to then-Gov.-elect George Ryan’s transition team and was later appointed to the board of directors for the Illinois Inauguration 1998, Inc.
Garth was chairman of the Quentis Bernard Garth Foundation, which he founded in memory of his youngest son in 1995. The QBG Foundation provides scholarships to the disenfranchised inner-city youths in the Chicago area. To date, the foundation has helped over 49 students and has disbursed over $1 million in scholarship awards.
A dedicated activist and leader in the business community, Garth maintained memberships and positions with several business organizations. He was the former president of Midwest Region III of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), Region III Advertising Representative with the NNPA, Transition Team for IDOT Dan Ryan Project, board member of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition, a lifetime member of the NAACP and a member of the Chatham Lions Club.
Garth was the recipient of numerous local and national awards and honors, including carrying the torch through Chicago during the 2002 Olympics.