|Birth: ||Jul. 17, 1896|
Newport News City
|Death: ||Dec. 15, 1990|
Civic leader and newspaper publisher; Daughter of William Elmer Rouse and Edna Sue Hudgins Rouse; Wife of Raymond Blanton Bottom.
FORMER DAILY PRESS EDITOR DIES DOROTHY R. BOTTOM, BUSINESS, CIVIC LEADER Dorothy Rouse Bottom, who died Saturday at Northampton Convalescent Center, assumed the editorship of the Daily Press and The Times-Herald when she was at the age most people think of retiring. Mrs. Bottom was elected editor of the newspapers and vice president and business manager of the corporation that published them in November 1953, after the death of her husband, Raymond B. Bottom. She was 57 when she took over, and - as she readily acknowledged - had but scant business knowledge and no newspaper experience. She said she was a "reader" who became an editor "with a reader's viewpoint," and she helped guide the growth and prosperity of the two Peninsula newspapers and their subsidiary enterprises for 27 years. She was a proud champion of Newport News, ceaselessly defending its reputation as a port and as a shipbuilding city and promoting its business community. She possessed an abiding sense of history and worked tirelessly to preserve Virginia traditions and historic sites. Almost singlehandedly, she raised $125,000 to rebuild in stone the wooden Victory Arch in downtown Newport News through which World War I servicemen returned home. Her boosterism and her opinions contributed to shaping of the newspapers' news coverage and editorial commment, although her personal influence moderated as her son, Raymond B. Bottom Jr. of Hampton, and her two daughters, Barbara B. Forst of Gloucester and Dorothy B. Duffy of Hampton, became more active in the management in the late 1970s. Mrs. Bottom retired from active management in February 1981 at the age of 84. She was 94 at her death. Funeral services for Mrs. Bottom will be held Tuesday. The Daily Press Inc. which was owned by members of the Bottom family and the family of William R. Van Buren Jr. of Hampton, was sold on Sept. 30, 1986, to the present owners, the Tribune Co., for $200 million. The sale included cable televiison systems in Newport News and Danville. Mrs. Bottom was a resident of Hampton for more than 60 years, residing on Powhatan Parkway in the Wythe section. She had been in declining health since she suffered a debilitating stroke in October 1989. Mrs. Bottom was born in Newport News on May 17, 1896 - just months after the city was chartered and after the first issue of the Daily Press was published. At that time her father's house was on 25th Street. In 1911, by coincidence, that property was incorporated in the site of the newspapers' offices and printing plant. In those days, the Daily Press and The Times-Herald were separately owned. In 1913, The Daily Press Inc. purchased The Times-Herald and the two newpapers occupied a single plant on 25th Street. This building, with additions, was occupied until May 1968, when the current plant on Warwick Boulevard was opened. Mrs. Bottom was the only child of William E. and Edna Rouse and she grew up in a house her father built on 33rd Street and attended Newport News public schools. Mrs. Bottom's father was a native of Smithfield - the son of a Confederate soldier - and was a pioneer Newport News businessman. At various times he owned a furniture store, a funeral home and the first Ford automobile dealership on the Peninsula. In addition, he developed several real estate holdings. Rouse purchased the controlling interest in the two newspapers in December 1930 and in January 1931 his son-in-law, Raymond B. Bottom was elected president of The Daily Press Inc., editor of the newspapers and business manager of the publishing company. Rouse took no active role in running the newspapers. He died in June 1945. Mrs. Bottom's mother was Edna Sue Hudgins, a school teacher whose parents, Sarah Crockett Hudgins and Albert Floyd Hudgins, moved to Newport News from York County, where Hudgins had been clerk of the circuit court. The Hudginses established a dry goods store and operated a boarding house where, family tradition has it, Rouse boarded after he came in 1888 as a young man to Newport News. Mrs. Bottom attended Mary Baldwin College in Staunton. She was married to Capt. Raymond B. Bottom, then a career Army officer, on July 2, 1925. Bottom, raised in Richmond, was the son of the state printer, Davis Bottom, and his wife, Ella Virginia Alley Bottom. He first came to Newport News in 1914 to work as a surveyor for the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway. Bottom had been a member of the Richmond Light Infantry Blues and in 1917 received a commission as a second lieutenant of engineers. He trained at Langley Field for duty in the American Expeditionary Force, serving in France as an aerial observer. Following the armistice, he served in Germany. Bottom remained in the Army and was stationed at a number of posts in the United States - including Fort Monroe - and in the Phillipines. He resigned his commission as a captain in the Coast Artillery Corps in order to settle down on the Peninsula and begin his newspaper career. He later received a reserve Army commission as a major. When World War II broke out, Bottom volunteered for active service in the U.S. Navy and received a reserve commission in 1942 as a lieutenant commander. He served on active duty at the Naval Operations Base in Norfolk, where he was the base security officer. He died Oct. 29, 1953. When he assumed the editorship of the newspapers in 1931, the circulation of the Daily Press was 6,100 and circulation of The Times-Herald was 9,300. At the time Mrs. Bottom succeeded him, 22 years later, the Daily Press circulation was 25,810 and The Times-Herald circulation was 30,220. When Mrs. Bottom retired, the Daily Press circulation had risen to 58,280 and The Times-Herald circulation was 42,400. Two weeks after her retirement, the Virginia General Assembly adopted a resolution honoring Mrs. Bottom as "a great contributor to the commonwealth." The resolution states: "Mrs. Bottom exercised her office in a responsible manner so as to instill confidence in worthy institutions and to solicit support for efforts of common good to her community and the commonwealth. "The development of our ports, our industry and economy, and our tourism in Virginia has paralleled Mrs. Bottom's efforts in those areas." A few months later she was awarded an honorary life membership in the Virginia Press Association. Both she and her husband helped to start and develop the VPA; he served as president of the VPA from 1935 to 1938. Mrs. Bottom established an award in memory of her husband which is given annually to the outgoing president of the VPA. Mrs. Bottom frequently said she took particular pride in three accomplishments. One was a private school she started in Indian River Park. Located near her home, the school taught kindergarten and elementary grades. Her own children and many neighborhood children attended this school, which closed when World War II started. The school was located on the first floor of a house adjacent to the Bottom family home in Hampton. The building is used today by her daughter, Dorothy Duffy, as a library. Another was the reconstruction of the Victory Arch, a wooden sturcture build in 1919 at the foot of 25th Street that had fallen into disrepair. Many thousands of American servicemen returning home through the Newport News port of embarkation marched under the arch. Her father, William E. Rouse, had assisted in the planning, construction and financing of the orginal arch. Mrs. Bottom considered it to be a monument to all American servicemen and a historic landmark and used the newspaper columns to promote its restoration. The newspapers' coverage of the rededication of the new arch on Memorial Day 1962 included more than 30 photographs and the text of Gov. Albertis S. Harrison's address. Harrison praised Mrs. Bottom for rendering "a great service to Newport News and Virginia." The Braxton-Perkins Post 25 of the American Legion cited Mrs. Bottom for her "highly successful, tireless and unceasing efforts to have the Victory Arch project publicized." And the third achievement close to Mrs. bottom's heart was her participation in the Virginia Travel Council. She frequently referred to herself as a "roving ambassador" for Virginia. Mrs. Bottom's interest in travel promotion was an extension of her husband's interest. He helped organize and served as the first president of the Virginia Travel Council. Her husband also served a term as president of the Virginia State Chamber of Commerce and for years following his death Mrs. Bottom worked on the chamber's world trade committee. She also championed the port of Newport News and the Chesapeake and Ohio Railway.
Mrs. Bottom took steps to foster good relations between the military posts on the Peninsula and the civilian community. She seldom missed attending a change-of-command ceremony and often entertained area post and base commanders. In 1963 she was honored at the national convention of the Assocation of the U.S. Army for her "aggressive and determined support of civilian-military projects on the Virginia Peninsula." Mrs. Bottom faithfully attended partiotic functions and was particularly fond of the annual Yorktown Day celebrations that marked the anniversary of Cornwallis' Oct. 19, 1781, surrender. For years prior to the 1976 Bicentennial fo the American Revolution she tried to have a cyclorama depicting the surrender scene constructed at Yorktown. A cyclorama is a series of large pictures put on the wall of a circular room so as to appear in natural perspective to a spectator standing in the center. Mrs. Bottom did commission in 1976 a roadside painting of American Revolutionary troops resting at Endview Plantation en route to Yorktown. She attended the series of commemorative events associated with the 350th anniversary of Jamestown in 1957, accompanying Virginia's governor and party to England and Europe that year during which time the delegation invited Queen Elizabeth II to come to Williamsburg. As a civic leader, she supported the unsuccessful efforts in 1956 to unite the cities of Hampton, Warwick and Newport News into a community that might have been called the New Port of Hampton. As an enthusiast for Newport News, she took little interest in the cities on the south side of Hampton Roads. When, by chance, a Norfolk newspaper would refer to Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. as being a local shipyard, she would fire off a letter to remind the editors that the shipyard is located in Newport News, not Norfolk. For years, the newspapers did not accept advertising from businesses in Norfolk and Portsmouth, according to Frank Thieme, a retired advertising director. She would have no part in permitting them to compete with hometown merchants. That policy was changed in the early 1970s. Mrs. Bottom was a gracious lady who was personally devoted to her employees, but she also maintained the typical Southern prejudices of her day. She opposed federal regulations in general and civil rights legislation in particular. The newspapers had long reflected prevailing attitudes toward race relations. Like many other newspapers in the South and the rest of the country, the Daily Press and The Times-Herald downplayed news of the black community. This practice, however, was changed in the early 1970s. Mrs. Bottom is remembered by former reporters and editors - almost universally - as being "a gracious lady" and a person "devoted" to her employees. She would stick by employees in times of personal tragedy; there were incidents when she paid for medical treatment that an employee couldn't afford. There were also occasions when she would retain on the payroll an unproductive employee just because she was, as W. Ed Storey, a retired managing editor, put it, "attached to her people." Mrs. Bottom, whose habit was to wear a hat and gloves to work, kept late-in-the-day office hours. She would arrive in the late morning and remain at her desk, often conferring with editors, into early evening hours. "She was the most honest person I ever knew," recalled Hattie Southall, who was Mrs. Botoom's secretary for nearly three decades. "I never knew of her to rearrange the truth." And, she continued, "if she was your friend, you had a friend forever." Mrs. Southall believes Mrs. Bottom was "too often misquoted as a public figure" - that people who didn't know her talked about her, exaggerating her mild eccentricities. She had her own personal way of addressing employees. Mrs. Southall, for example, was "Miss Hattie." Editors would be called "Mr. Ed" or "Mr. Frank" or "Mr. Will." "I believe she addressed people that way because she wanted them to call her 'Miss Dorothy'," Mrs. Southall suggested. "But, of course, no one ever did. She was always 'Mrs. Bottom'." In addition to her duties at the newspapers, Mrs. Bottom also was a board member and officer of The Daily Press Inc. bsidiaries: Radio Stations WGH AM/FM, Hampton Raods Industrial Electronics, Hampton Roads Cablevision Co. and Danville Cablevision Co. and Southern Colorprint Corp., which at one time published color comics distributed in Sunday newspapers in the southeastern United States. While her relations with members of the Van Buren family were cordial and civil, the relations between the two families were not always harmonious. The late William R. Van Buren Sr., a former Navy captain, was elected president of The Daily Press Inc. in 1953 after Bottom's death, at the time Mrs. Bottom became vice president, editor and business manager. Van Buren remained as president until his death in 1964. After that time Mrs. Bottom was the company's chief executive officer, but the office of president was left vacant. When she retired, several management changes were initiated. William R. Van Buren Jr. was elected president of The Daily Press Inc. He also retained the positions of treasurer and news editor. Raymond B. Bottom Jr. was named chairman of the board as well as vice president, editor and business manager. His sister, Dorothy B. Duffy, became editor of the newspapers soon after. Other positions affecting family members were also made in this period. During this time Mrs. Bottom was the newspapers' senior officer - from 1964 until her retirement - she especially enjoyed her role in the community as a member of the media and communications field, attending public functions and social occasions. Mrs. Bottom took great pleasure in her home and her garden. The Peninsula Council of Garden Clubs honored Mrs. Bottom in 1967 for her contributions to the "betterment and beautification of the Peninsula." Mrs. Bottom was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Newport News. In addition to her son and two daughters, she is survived by four grandchildren, Fernande F. Sommers of Goshen, Mass., Jesse R. Forst of Newport News and Zurich, Switzerland, Mathew Forst of North Brunswick, N.J., and Mark Whitney Gilkey of San Francisco; one great grandchild, Shanti Sommers; and three first cousins, Rouse Joyner of Richmond, Dr. Elvin Hutchins of Portsmouth and Preston Nelms of Charlottesville. Funeral services will be conducted at 2 p.m. Tuesday at First Presbyterian Church, 215 32nd St., Newport News, by the Revs. Eugene Soud and Walter Kennedy. Burial will be in Greenlawn Cemetery in Hampton. The family will receive friends from 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at Peninsula Funeral Home, 11144 Warwick Blvd., Newport News.
Raymond Blanton Bottom (1893 - 1953)
Greenlawn Memorial Park
Newport News City
Created by: Garver Graver
Record added: Jun 13, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 11163110