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William Garth, CEO of Chicago-based Citizen Newspaper Group, dies at the age of 78

(September 26, 2016) Longtime publisher, philanthropist and activist, William "Bill" Garth, Sr., CEO of the Citizen newspaper chain in Chicago, died on Friday, Sept. 23 from complications of  diabetes at RML Specialty Hospital. William Darrell Garth, Jr. said that funeral services and public memorial will be announced soon.

"Chicago lost a beacon for our community," said his son, Darrell Garth in a statement. "He was a very savvy newspaperman and publisher. "He cared about, as he would always say, being the eyes and ears of the community as he reported what is right, what is just and what was important to the community."

A native of Alabama, Garth began his career at Citizen Newspapers in 1969 as an advertising sales representative. When the publisher at the time, Gus Savage, won election to a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1980, Garth purchased the Chatham Citizen, Southend Citizen and Chicago Weekend and later added the South Suburban and the Hyde Park editions. He also founded Garthco Publications, which published PUSH Magazine, a bi-monthly national publication.

Garth has long been active in civic and industry associations. He is the former President of Midwest Region III of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), its regional Advertising Representative, and board member of the Rainbow/PUSH Coalition.

He became the first African-American to be elected President of the Illinois Press Association, the state’s largest newspaper association and the trade organization for Illinois weekly and daily newspapers. He was elected a stockholder in the Cook County South Suburban Publishers Association and in 2009, was elected Chairman of the Cook County Publishers Association for 2010.

In 1995, Garth founded and chaired the Quentis Bernard Garth (Q.B.G.) Foundation in memory of his youngest son, who was killed in a domestic stabbing at his South Side home. The Q.B.G. Foundation provides scholarships to the disenfranchised, inner city youths in the Chicagoland area and has helped over 49 students with more than $1 million in scholarship awards.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a statement that Garth "was more than the successful publisher of the Chicago Citizen and other respected publications. He was a philanthropist and community leader whose legacy will live on in the countless lives he has touched."

Garth was a founding member of the Chatham Business Association, and was instrumental in the area’s revitalization which included the opening of several national chain stores. "Mr. Garth was responsible for a lot of the development in Chatham," Melinda Kelly, the business association's executive director, told the Chicago Tribune. "In bringing a Nike outlet (store), the Target store, the Home Depot, he was at the forefront."

"He was a man of integrity who cared a lot about his community," said Paul A. Labonne, a vice president and community investment officer for PNC Bank, whom Garth wooed to the Chatham Business Association as his vice chairman. "He will be deeply missed."

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