"There will always be a need for good story telling," Lou Major Sr. often said.
Besides being a good story teller, we think the long-time newspaperman turned out to be a pretty good story himself, starting as a cub reporter and ending as the CEO of our family-owned newspaper company, overseeing more than 25 newspapers.
Lou, 82, died this week after a several-year battle with lymphoma.
He started at The Daily News in Bogalusa, now part of Wick Communications, as a cub reporter in 1951, fresh out of journalism school at Louisiana State University.
"We had a lot of red beans and Spam back then," Lou would tell about his early days in the newspaper business.
He went on to become that newspaper's editor and publisher then on to become the CEO of Wick Communications, our family's company that owns more than 28 newspapers and specialty publications in 12 states.
After Lou got into management at The Daily News in 1963, he started working with our father, Wick's founder, Milton Wick, and with Milt bought and started newspapers all over the country.
After Milt Wick's death the company was reorganized with the two of us, Milt's sons, becoming co-chairmen and Lou taking over as CEO. He retired as CEO in 2002 but continued to work with us on the company's board through 2012, marking more than 60 years with the same company where he started as that cub reporter.
Lou was honored in 2012 by being inducted into the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication Hall of Fame, which recognized him for his efforts with The Daily News to report on civil rights issues through the racial unrest in his community in the 60s, despite several attempts of intimidation from the Ku Klux Klan that included burning crosses at the newspaper's office and on the front lawn of his home, and personal threats to him and his family.
Lou credited Bascomb Talley Jr., a Bogalusa businessman and stockholder with the paper when Lou first started working there, for seeing potential in him and encouraging the company to develop him as a manager.
"He really went to bat for me," Lou would later say about Talley's efforts on his behalf.
Lou evidently remembered Talley's mentorship, as he would go on to nurture numerous Wick newspaper employees' careers, giving dozens a chance to take over as publishers of papers in our company, like Will Chapman, currently publisher of The Daily Iberian in New Iberia, and a group manager for Wick.
Chapman tells how he was hired to be ad manager in New Iberia and thought he'd be there "a couple of years" as he sought to become a publisher.
"Twenty-six years ago, Lou Sr. gave me the chance to take over one of Wick's largest operations, despite it meaning I'd be their youngest publisher."
Like happened for Lou, Chapman said, "Lou Major really went to bat for me."
From starting as a cub reporter covering high school sports at a small town paper, later battling the Ku Klux Klan, and then working his way up to publisher,and then CEO of our company, Lou Major never forgot that it all starts with telling a good story.
We think his career in newspapers and especially his story with Wick Communications is a story worth noting.
- Bob and Walt Wick